Advent with Austen is a blogging event that I heard of weeks ago and kept meaning to officially sign up for, but never did – until now, I guess! The event is hosted by Yvann of Reading, Fueled by Tea with co-hosts Alex of The Sleepless Reader, Nymeth, Iris on Books, and Teadevotee.
The event encourages participation in things Jane Austen from reading (or re-reading) her books, or reading books about her, to watching film adaptations.
I am currently rereading Northanger Abbey and plan to watch one of the more recent adaptations of Sense & Sensibility. A couple of weeks ago, however, I got the opportunity to experience Jane Austen in a way new-to-me: I saw a play adaptation of Pride and Prejudice at the Round House Theatre in Bethesda, MD.
I actually wasn’t thinking of Advent with Austen when I decided to go see the play. I had received a flyer in the mail from Round House Theatre early in the year, set it aside, and asked my friend M. in November if she wanted to go. So she and her co-worker both joined me. They were acquainted with Pride and Prejudice by way of Colin Firth. I myself haven’t read the book for a number of years, and so the film adaptations were the most fresh on my mind also.
I liked Round House Theatre as a venue very much. I felt that all of us in the audience were nicely close to the stage, so as to catch the nuances of expression and tone. The adaptation and performances definitely did great service to Austen’s wit and humor. I felt that we were laughing or smiling throughout the whole play. All of the cast was strong, but I’ll confess that Susan Lynskey who played Caroline Bingley was one of my favorites. She pronounced everything with this nasally condescension that was just superb. I’ve never enjoyed that character as much as I did in this play adaptation.
My friend’s co-worker exclaimed in the intermission that she was in love with Mr. Collins (played by James Konicek). He is definitely one of the most comic characters in Austen’s books. I loved the way Konicek launched into tones of adoration about his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and of course the proposal scene with Lizzie was fantastic.
Lizzie as played by Kate Cook was very easy to like. Mr. Darcy was played by Michael Brusasco and I was very impressed with how he rolled out the long complicated sentences of his doomed proposal speech to Lizzie. There are no do-overs with plays, so for him to make that speech and not make it seem laborious at all, but full of expression, had my eyebrows raised in appreciation. They both got quite cute later in the play when they run into each other at Pemberley and are both shy of each other.
Several of the cast were (sensibly) doubled up in parts (e.g. the same actress playing Mary Bennet and Anne de Bourgh) and the dance scenes of course could not convey the crowds of people as could be present in a film which employs extras. But that didn’t bother me at all as the whole experience invited familiarity and intimacy, wowing with strong performances and clever scene-changes rather than by spectacle.
All three of us were high of the experience afterwards. For those of you who are in the D.C. metropolitan area, the play is running through December 31st – just saying. 🙂