Review: A Sparkling Pride and Prejudice Adapation in Edmonton Charms a Fellow Janeite

Gentle readers, it may appear from time to time, that our Austen connections run far and wide, but modesty precedes us as we happily submit this review for your perusal from our dear friend and fellow Janeite Deborah Jane who attended the new stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice presented by The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our only regret is that we did not have the extreme pleasure of experiencing it together. Enjoy!

When the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta and the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta  formed a partnership to create a Professional Theatre Program, their goal was to create Canada’s premiere professional theatre program for emerging professional theatre artists. The program includes a curriculum with master classes in acting, singing, voice, movement, dance, text, and script analysis by a faculty comprised of some Canada’s leading theatre artists.

A lovely production of a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice from Tom Wood, one of Canada’s most celebrated actors, directors and playwrights, was the result of the collaboration.  The world premiere of the play took place at the Citadel Theatre on August 21, 2008, opening to glowing reviews.

“Lizzy . . gets a ravishing performance from Amanda Lisman, who radiates intelligence and heart.

“The show literally revolves . . . in Bob Baker’s production, designed and dressed in glorious and lavish period detail by Leslie Frankish and lit, like gorgeous varnished oil paintings, by Bretta Gerecke.

“And in the course of Woods’s adaptation . . . Pride and Prejudice becomes delightful and absorbing, and the fortunes of Lizzy, Jane and the rest crucial to us.” – Liz Nicholls, The Edmonton Journal

The Banff Centre/Citadel partners chose to produce this adaptation because it offered so many roles for young actors, and offered a tremendous opportunity for the cast to understand the historical context and manners and master Austen’s complex language. This new adaptation also allowed the young actors to learn and employ skills such as sword play (a brief scene introducing the regiment to the neighbourhood), dancing (at the Netherfield ball), and playing and singing (performed very softly as background to dialogue).

I am happy to report that the costumes, hairstyles and music were true to the Regency period and very similar to the styles employed in the 1995 BBC production. It was a nice touch that Elizabeth and Darcy’s dance at Netherfield was performed to Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot.

The set was elaborate and intricate. A revolving floor dressed with stylized tree-like structures that were moved in and out and around the stage to allow characters to walk through woods and halls and rooms, also facilitated the movement of furniture on and off stage to create lavish sets for Longbourn, Netherfield Park, Rosings, and Pemberley.

Wood’s three hour adaptation is light, bright and sparkling and very faithful to Austen’s plot. The language was almost perfect but I cringed once. I cannot imagine Lizzy telling Charlotte Lucas that she was “besotted” by Wickham!

The cast was wonderful. In particular, Amanda Lisman as Lizzy shined. Her performance reinforced my distaste for Keira Knightley’s 2005 movie portrayal, as Lisman was everything a young Lizzy ought to be: intelligent; witty; and playful but appropriately introspective and ashamed. Her delivery of the line, “Till this moment I never knew myself ” was powerful and heart-breaking. Renowned Canadian actress Lally Cadeau who played both Mrs. Bennet and Lady Catherine de Bourgh brought all the right notes to both roles. As Mr. Darcy, Rejean Cournoyer was a great deal more than tolerable.

Overall, this a charming adaptation produced and performed with wit, skill and ingenuity and I highly recommend it if it comes to a theatre near you.

Pride and Prejudice; September 20 – October 12, 2008
Presented by The Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Stage adaptation by Tim Wood

Further reading

  • Read The Citadel Theatre’s Pride and Prejudice – Edmonton Sun
  • Preview Prevue – Pride and Prejudice – Vue Weekly, Edmonton
  • Review Adapted Without Prejudice – Edmonton Journal
  • Review Romantic Comedy Sparkles in Delightful Adaptation – Edmonton Journal
  • Review Taking Pride in Ending Austen Prejudice – The Gateway, The Official Student newspaper at Univeristy of Alberta

2 thoughts on “Review: A Sparkling Pride and Prejudice Adapation in Edmonton Charms a Fellow Janeite

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