REVIEW: “Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)”

Kenny Smith sort of reviews Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) in Glasgow.

I NEVER could nor would claim to be an expert on the works of Jane Austen.

To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, although I do recall seeing short excerpts in television adaptations, but I do know the basic story – the Bennett family have five unmarried daughters, and unless they take a husband, the family will lose everything it owns, as women cannot inherit on their own.

I’d seen Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) advertised on the Tube in London earlier this year, and wondered what it was all about, and was rather surprised to discover that it’s very much a Scottish creation.

This is a play by Isobel McArthur, with contemporary songs, which is based on Jane Austen’s original 1813 novel, but with a comedic twist.

We meet the cast of five women, all of whom start the play performing as a servant, plus one or more of the main characters. The show began at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow in 2018, and went on tour in 2019–20, before it opened in the West End in 2021. The production won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment or Comedy Play.

It’s a fast and furious retelling of Austen’s iconic love story, with equally quick costume changes for our leads. The show’s creator steals the show as a cleaner, Mrs Bennett, and the famous Mr Darcy, as men, money, and microphones are fought over, all in the name of romance.

The Austen novel is at the heart of the tale, but given a slightly more contemporary setting with some rather colourful language in places – and it’s wonderful. We have songs dropping in when you least expect it, including Young Hearts Run Free, Will You Love Me Tomorrow?, You’re So Vain, and Pulp’s heartbreaking Something Changed.

Hannah Jarrett-Scott, Tori Burgess, Christina Gordon, and Leah Jameson – completing the cast – are first-rate performers, bringing sass, emotion, and humour, showing that there’s new life to be found in a classic text. If only the original was as entertaining as this, and I’d have been more interested in it at a younger age!

Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) continues at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, until Saturday 12 November. If it’s near you, then it’s more than worth making the effort to find.

Plus, read more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s culture pages.