“Pride and Prejudice” Jane Austin’s Favorite Characters Brought Back to Life at Book-It

Richard Nguyen Sloniker and Jen Taylor Photo by Chris Bennion

Richard Nguyen Sloniker and Jen Taylor
Photo by Chris Bennion

In this, Book-It’s 25th Anniversary season, it brings back those charming Bennet sisters, their harried mother, and all the men who complicate their lives. “Pride and Prejudice” was previously seen on this stage in 2000 and 2004, and, as it has in the past, it will absolutely delight the many fans of Jane Austen. Others will enjoy it too, but perhaps find it a bit slow going initially.

This is about the early 19th C drawing room crowd in the English countryside when the pace of life was slower. This production certainly captures that slower pace. We meet the characters as they perform their stately dances, lots and lots of stately dances. The form of those dances was carefully prescribed but much flirting and sniping could be fit in around the edges. Because a woman was considered a failure if she didn’t marry, these dances were enormously important. It was at such social gatherings that romantic attachments could be made or rejected, and we find both here.

Greg Carter’s set, simple but so appropriate, consists of writing—writing on the walls, writing on the floor, text wherever you look. Little else is needed but a chair or two when the scene demands. Such a setting puts a lot of pressure on actors to make the characters and story magically come alive. They succeed admirably.

It’s a stellar cast, but of course, there are a few standouts. Richard Nguyen Sloniker is the dashing Mr. Darcy whom few women could resist. Jen Taylor as the strong-minded Elizabeth isn’t one to be easily subdued. She has her pride, and, like all of that time period, her prejudices too. But the same could be said of the prideful and prejudiced Darcy. The interplay between the two is delectable!

Meanwhile Elizabeth’s sisters complicate the family life. Rachel Brow is properly rambunctious as Lydia, the youngest and troublesome sister. Rebecca Olson is properly decorous as Jane, the oldest and, perhaps, most responsible sister.

Austen so well captures the morals and manners of her time, and this adaptation by Marcus Goodwin who also directed it, is a holiday sweetmeat for Book-It fans.

Through Dec. 28 at Center Theatre at the Armory in Seattle Center, (206 216-0833 or boxoffice@book-it.org

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