Pictured: Nedra Dixon, Nicole Marie Green (front), and Bree Elrod (back). Photo by Cory Weaver.
By Megan Greenlee
By a show of hands who loves Jane Austen? (Raises hand) By a show of hands who owns all of Jane Austen’s books and secretly wishes to have lived in that time? (Raises hand) Jane Austen is legendary. She touches the heart of the romantics in our midst and everyone wants a Mr. Darcy or wishes their partner was a Mr. Darcy. So as I drove to KCRep’s production of “Pride and Prejudice” I was a tad nervous and rather curious. I, obviously, love the source material, so the thought of gender-bending a classic was a curious wonderment in my mind. Would it live up to my Janeite expectations?
The answer is a resounding “yes.” From the first moment, I was hooked. And it was an important moment, too, as it told the audience “Don’t take me seriously. Laugh!” And oh boy did we. This play is a knock-down farce adapted by the brilliant Kate Hamil, whose message is one that strikes a chord with us all. Love is a game. It has its beautiful moments, its awkward moments and moments when you just need to laugh.
The cast, directed by the talented Marissa Wolf, is an extraordinary and magnificent ensemble. Most play several roles and the non-stop action keeps the audience rolling in the aisles. “Lizzie” Bennett played by Bree Elrod and Mr. Darcy played Brian Demar Jones are the most straightforward characters in a lovely homage to Austen. Amongst the uproarious comedy, the pair play real humans who suffer through the trials and turmoil of love and life with a wonderful and often funny honesty. Lauren Spencer plays Jane Bennett with a lovely sincerity and Miss DeBourgh with delightful hilarity. Nicole Marie Green plays Lydia and Lady Catherine as two very distinct characters with brilliant comedic timing. Nedra Dixon’s Mrs. Bennett has the most energy and zeal by far. She’s the mother that, as children, we were too embarrassed to introduce to our friends.
It’s the fellows, however, who steal the show. Andy Perkins’ (Mary/Mr. Bingley/Ensemble) bits and comedic timing had me laughing harder than I have in a long time. Much of the show has you on pins and needles waiting to see what he will do next. Sam Cordes (Mr. Collins/Wickham/Miss Bingley/Ensemble) has a zeal and energy that takes the stage by storm. He wore me out just watching him. Where the rambunctious boys exhaust us with their energy Walter Coppage (Charlotte/Mr. Bennett/Ensemble) meets them with a sarcastic wit and biting dry humor.
The set is a beautiful Victorian homage designed by Kimie Nishikawa, whose second act scene change gets a deserved gasp of awe from the audience. (I don’t want to ruin for you. Go see it.) Melissa Torchia’s costumes are not only beautifully designed, but they enable lightening-fast changes that seem impossible to pull off.
Go see something that makes you laugh and reminds you to not take life so seriously — KCRep’s
“Pride and Prejudice” runs through April 20. For more information visit kcrep.org.