Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pride and Prejudice at the Cleveland Playhouse 27 March 2008

It’s a big job making a stage adaptation of a classic period piece novel like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. You have to cram a large novel into two hours of stage time, not to mention getting the language and costumes of the time period right. The current production at the Cleveland Playhouse, directed by Peter Amster, comes from Chicago’s Northlight Theatre where it was nominated for several regional awards. Most of the principal cast came along from Chicago with Amster, supported by third year acting graduate students from Case Western Reserve University.
For the most part things come together well on the stage of the Bolton Theater, where the Playhouse will be presenting Pride and Prejudice until April 13. Using primarily an adaptation by British playwright James Mawell from the 1960’s, the current production shows the fun and romantic side of Austen’s story, filled with wit and irony. The staging is almost perfect (lead by scenic designer Robert Koharchik), and the costumes are even better (coordinated by costume designer Gail Brassard).
The story is about Mr. and Mrs. Bennett and their five single daughters, all looking to move up socially and economically through marriage. Judith Day is the best of a very good cast as the mother, while Bill McGough is enjoyable as the father. Charon Cross as Elizabeth Bennett gets much stage time as both a character and a narrator. The script, as well as the staging and the costumes, give all the actors a little elbowroom with the characters, and they all run with it in the right direction. The play holds up quite well, even after over two hours of stage time and two intermissions.
Up next at the Cleveland Playhouse is their third annual Fusionfest, this year featuring the world premier collaboration with the Louisville Actors Theater of “All Hail Hurricane Gordo.” Check out for more information on Fusionfest ’08 as well as their 08/09 season.

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