Review: Pride and Prejudice, York Theatre Royal

It’s always great to see classic stories being brought to life in a new way, and that’s exactly what Two Bit Classics do with their new adaptation of Jane Austen’s timeless story Pride and Prejudice. You can imagine the novel working well on stage anyway, considering it has all of the perfect ingredients required to whip up an engrossingly dramatic love story. With that in mind, Two Bit Classics take those ingredients and cook up something entirely different – and stage the whole novel with two actors in two hours.

I’m pretty sure most of us know the story of Pride and Prejudice: it’s a colourful drama about choosing with your head or your heart, set against the backdrop of a rather rigid Regency society. In this adaptation, Two Bit Classics stay true to the original events of the novel and play all of the characters in it between the two of them. This makes for some hilarious quick changes from character to character for Joanna Tincey and Nick Underwood, the two driving forces behind the production.

Tincey and Underwood are a fantastic duo to watch on stage; they’re both brilliant actors who bring the characters of the novel to life in a witty and charming way. They transition between the characters and convey their emotional states with charismatic finesse and command their charming little set, nestled within the confines of York Theatre Royal’s studio space. They engage with the audience very well and evoke plenty of laughter with their physicality and vocal nuances, which change with every character they portray. Neither of them let their gender inhibit their ability to make us laugh or empathise with the characters, no matter how distanced they are from our own time.

Tincey and Underwood also make the characters and themes of the original novel fresh, in an interesting, funny and witty way that brings to our attention just how great the difference is between the time period of the piece and that of our own. They work well together and draw on the power of the well-designed, simplistic set to engage with the audience and the themes of the piece to create a tight, often hilarious piece of theatre that stands out from the more mainstream shows on offer at the moment.

Pride and Prejudice is a delightful little gem of theatre that pulses with comedy and energy, and you really enjoy yourself throughout the show. It’s never boring or farcical, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s witty, engaging and not to be missed.

Pride and Prejudice played at the York Theatre Royal on 21-22 November. For more information, visit the York Theatre Royal website.

Image by Sylwia Dylewska