The Indianapolis Repertory Theatre is putting on a thoroughly delightful production of Jane Austen’s romantic comedy Pride and Prejudice. For fans of the novel, there may be a quibble here or two, but no disappointments. For those who haven’t yet enjoyed an extended country visit with the Bennet family, it’s a delightful introduction.
Mark Goetzinger and the IRT’s Associate Artistic Director Priscilla Lindsay are the whimsically long-suffering Mr. Bennet and his delightfully, maddeningly, ditzy wife, Mrs. Bennet. Goetzinger had just the right balance of gentle amazement and detachment. Lindsay was wonderfully comic as a woman totally involved with the marrying off of five dowerless daughters. The audience sometimes simply began laughing as soon as she entered a scene.
The whole cast of twenty characters played by fifteen fine actors did very well. I’ll focus on the Bennet’s. Carey Cannon made a superb, cool yet passionate daughter, Elizabeth Bennet. Elizabeth was very much the center of things. In the central conflict of Pride and Prejudice she dueled effectively with the pride of Mr. Darcey, played with appropriately restrained passion by Jason Bradley, even when her own position was based on her prejudice. Elizabeth refused a marriage offer from the comically dull, toadying clergyman Mr. Collins, Patrick New. She warmly sympathized with and supported her sister Miss Jane Bennet, sunnily portrayed by Jenny McKnight, in her romance with the Mr. Bingley of Brian Hamman. Elizabeth even succeeded in taking and holding the high ground with the neighborhood dragon, Lady Catherine De Bourgh, played by Lesley Bevan.
Rounding out the family, Anne Thompson was dryly effective as the intellectual daughter, Mary. Krys Ptaskinski was winsome as the perky Kitty. Brandy McClendon was Lydia, the daughter who falls for the wicked Mr. Wickham, played with a certain oily handsomeness by Grant Goodman.
The IRT has quite a reputation for the quality of its sets and Robert Koharchik’s work here is quite a wonder. There’s a general scene of painting of the English countryside framed with richly paneled mahogany decorated with gold. The set changes almost magically to become a library, a family setting, a ballroom and even an outdoor park. Costumes by Gail Brassard and the music by Andrew Hopson were a pleasure by themselves and richly evoked the period.
Pride and Prejudice is a complicated story with formal and informal moments. Director Peter Amster has done a very creative production that has an active and energetic flow throughout. Jane Austen’s language is nicely in the forefront for the ear, but there’s plenty of action for the eye as well
The Indianapolis Repertory Theatre’s masterful production of Jane Austen’s "Pride and Prejudice" runs through October 9th.