Pride and Prejudice is a beloved story known by many. Some know it from the novel, which Jane Austen published in 1813 and which became her best-selling work. In 2005, Keira Knightley revived the classic tale when she donned the coveted role of Elizabeth Bennet. So it’s no surprise that Guthrie Theater chose the timeless tale as their summer show.
The biggest appeal of the show for many, however, wasn’t the content but the casting. The Guthrie recruited Minnesota-native Vincent Kartheiser, of Mad Men fame, to play Mr. Darcy, the haughty, tough-love lead who has been making ladies swoon for 200 years. The rest of the cast features such local favorites as Hugh Kennedy (Mr. Bingley), Christine Weber (Jane Bennet)—the two of which genuinely connected as romantic interests on stage—Kris L. Nelson (the quirky and somewhat creepy Mr. Collins), Suzanne Warmanen (Mrs. Bennet), Anna Sundberg (Caroline Bingley), Sally Wingert (Lady Catherine), and others.
But as good as the supporting cast is, the heart of Pride and Prejudice lies within the complicated love story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. This, unfortunately, was where things didn’t pan out. Elizabeth Bennet (played by Ashley Rose Montondo) and Mr. Darcy just didn’t seem in love. Their chemistry (if there was any) seemed forced and unnatural, Montonodo using far too much sickly sweet sarcasm instead of strong, well-presented arguments, and Kartheiser seeming more concerned with his accent than his character’s conflicted passion for Elizabeth.
That said, the translation from the book and/or movie is a tough project. On stage, it can be somewhat difficult to keep all the characters straight, connote different times and places, and paraphrase without losing context or forward motion. But one thing the stage does allow for (and the Guthrie always does supremely well) is a breathtaking set and costumes, all of which were spot on in this production. The moving tracks, looming pillars, fake grass, and shrubbery were lovely, as were the gowns and suits. Dance scenes were a joy to watch, which is not surprising given Joe Chvala was behind the choreography.
If you are a fan of the story, I would suggest seeing this show. The laughs are plentiful and it’s enjoyable all around; the perfect summertime diversion.
Pride and Prejudice
Through August 31
Guthrie Theater, 818 Second St. S., Mpls., 612-377-2224