Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pride & Prejudice and loving my view from the audience

Well, it's Super Bowl Sunday, and you know what that means...a stage version of Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice! The theater was packed, so I guess there is hope for humanity ;)

I enjoyed the show. At first it seemed rather fast-paced and rushed, because the way it was adapted for the stage called for very quick transitions between scenes. Night became day, weeks passed by in an instant while stagehands dressed as maids whisked chairs on and off without so much as a break to dim the lights. But I soon realized that this was probably necessary to fit all of the important plot points of the novel into the play. It still ran nearly three hours, as my Mom (who attended with me) and I were shocked to discover once it was over. Mom was sad that her favorite line "I cannot abide a mountain" was not included in the adaptation.

Overall, I think this was a wonderful achievement for Swine Palace over at LSU. The casting was so well done that I instantly knew which actor was playing the principal roles before any of them spoke.

I recognized several actors from the play David and I saw at Swine Palace last spring, The Metal Children. I was also very excited to recognize two actors from shows I'd seen in New Orleans, at Southern Rep and Tulane Shakespeare. One of these actors was playing Mr. Darcy, and I'd seen him in King Lear (as Edgar) and Macbeth (in the title role). I'm annoyed with myself for leaving my program behind in my mom's car, because now for the life of me I can't remember the man's name. He has blown me away in everything I've seen him do. I will even say that he gave Colin Firth a run for his money as Mr. Darcy, and I love me some Colin Firth. Anyone reading this who can identify this brilliant actor, please comment.

The only negative aspect of this show for me was the large physical reactions and expressions that the actors often displayed. I think one of the joys of Jane Austen's work is that the characters must restrain their emotions and behave in a manner appropriate for society, but their true feelings come through in their witty words. Their was some scoffing and shrugging and eye-rolling going on that I thought was not necessary, and took away from the power of Austen's dialogue. Since this was happening across the board, I think it must have been a directorial choice. Sadly, one of the major offenders here was the actress playing Lizzy Bennett. I could tell she was a talented actor, but I didn't get Lizzy's sharp yet subtle wit from her performance. Her Lizzy seemed less confident than I imagine the character to be. Again, she was clearly talented, but I was disappointed in the choices taken.

I was thinking today about how much theater I've seen in the past couple of years. My pregnancy, and now baby care, prevented me from participating as much as I'd done before, and as a result I'm more often an audience member. I was surprised to discover that I love it. When I was younger, I couldn't see a show without wishing I was in it (unless I hated it). My desire to be involved eclipsed my enjoyment as an observer. That is no longer the case. Now I find myself loving the chance to get lost in the story as only an audience member can.

This is not to say that I don't miss participating - I do. But in the meantime, I enjoy this phase of my life, where I can sit back and watch and soak it all in.

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