The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
December 6, 7, 8 & 9, 2000.
Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen adapted by Constance Cox
Hugh Hemmings – Mr. Bennet
Diane Robinson – Mrs. Bennet
Claire Wiggins – Jane Bennet
Jane Richards – Elizabeth Bennet
Michelle Wragg – Lydia Bennet
Peter Winstone – Mr. Bingley
Maria Robinson – Caroline Bingley
Antony Muzzall – Mr. Collins
Philip Balding – Mr. Darcy
Olive Smith – Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Joan Braddock – Mrs. Hill
Rosemary Bouchy – Lady Lucas
Hazel Starns – Charlotte Lucas
John Garland – Mr. Wickham
Assistant Director – Margaret Ockenden
Stage Manager – David Comber
ASM – Joan Braddock
Lighting – Trevor Langley
Sound – Frances Thorne
Set Construction – Brian Box
Set Construction – Dave Collis
Set Construction – David Comber
Set Construction – Mike Davy
Set Painting – Sheila Neesham
Set Painting – Frances Thorne
Properties – Margaret Davy
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Costume – Margaret Pierce
Costume – Cherry Briggs
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Publicity – Frances Thorne
Publicity – Judith Berrill
Front of House Manager – Lucien Bouchy
Front of House Manager – Ralph Dawes
Front of House Manager – Peter Harrison
Front of House Manager – David Pierce
Box Office – Margaret Murrell
Box Office – Mark Flower
Programme Note #1: Pride and Prejudice
The programme introduces the cast with:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” … so the book commences. What chance will any such young man stand, when he moves into the neighbourhood of mothers with daughters in want of a husband!”
Publicity #1: Pride and Prejudice
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: November 23 2000 issue – page 20
Text Header: “Austen powers at their height”
THE elegance of the early 19th century is the setting for Wick Theatre Company’s latest production, a stage adaptation by Constance Cox of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice.
This well-loved tale, probably the most popular of her novels, tells of mothers and daughters ‘all aflutter’ when several eligible men appear in the neighbourhood. Single girls had only two choices, marriage or the role of poor relation, money and position rather than love counted in those far-of days. Happily, love wins for most of our heroes and heroines.
A strong cast includes experienced Barn regulars, plus one or two new faces. Mr and Mrs Bennet are played by Hugh Hemmings and Diane Robinson, and their daughters, Jane, Elizabeth and Lydia by Claire Wiggins, Jane Richards and Michelle Wragg.
Phillip Balding is the arrogant Mr Dacy and Peter Winstone his amiable friend Bingley. Olive Smith portrays the haughty Lady Catherine de Burgh and John Garland plays handsome seducer Lieutenant Wickham. Joan Bearman directs.
Performances are from Wednesday, December 6, to December 9 at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £6 or £5 from the box office on 01273 597094.
Publicity #2: Pride and Prejudice
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December ? 2000 issue – page ?
Reporter: Phil Hewitt
Text Header: “Austen provides the ideal role with pride”
Jane Richards reckons she’s got the ideal role in Wick Theatre Company’s production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Adapted for the stage by Constance Cox, it runs at the Barn Theatre, Southwick on December 6, 7, 8 and 9 at 7.45pm [tickets on 01273 597094].
As Austen devotees will know, it’s a tale of mothers and daughters all a flutter when several eligible men appear in their neighbourhood.
For Jane, part of the pleasure is that the company is such a positive one: “It’s coming together well which is just as well. We are all very well cast in our parts. The characterisation seems all very believable”. And Elizabeth is the plumb role as far as June is concerned. “I see her as almost an ideal character. She is extremely intelligent. She is very much ahead of her time in the way she is prepared to stand up to her social superiors. She does not fall into the role she is expected to play.”
When it comes to the pursuit of wealth, she is prepared to rate other considerations higher. She’s not prepared to kow-tow. “Her drawback is that although she is intelligent and she is quick, she is perhaps a little bit too quick to jump to conclusions – such as the way she gets a false impression from Darcy. ”
Pride and Prejudice has been one of Jane’s favourite novels ever since she was in her early teens.
“The chance to put it across on stage was a wonderful opportunity. There is something so quintessentially English about it that you can appreciate. It’s very witty. It’s sparkling in its wit. But at the same time Jane Austen has managed to create characters that we can still manage to relate o a couple of hundred years later.”
Transposing the novel to the stage inevitably means compromises, Jane admits: “You can’t have all the characters and all the situation. You do lose some of the speeches. But I think that the adaptation we’re using is a very good compromise. It has managed to keep most people’s favourite scenes.”
Jane, who comes from Brighton, has been involved with this particular company for five or six years now – an association she thoroughly enjoys. She reckons it’s the right way to approach drama.
“It’s good to have a hobby. Acting is a very precarious profession. When I was at the right age to have decided to go to drama school, I don’t think I was confident enough. There are so many actors out of work.”
But now she is able to combine acting with the security of her job with American Express.
Review #1: Pride and Prejudice
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: December 14 2000 issue – page 17
Reviewer: Frank Horsley
Text Header: “So here’s to you, Mrs Bennet …”
THE modern-day passion for anything Jane Austen continued unbridled at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, last week. Wick Theatre Company were on a winner all the way with Constance Cox’s almost rumbustious adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Delicious irony piled upon delicious irony as the cast revelled in delivering Austen’s wry observations on class, morals and love and marriage in the early 19th century.
No one relished their rôle more than Diane Robinson as Mrs Bennett, effectively the pushy mum from hell who could not wait to see her three daughters attired in the outwardly respectable cloak of matrimony. For all she seemed to care their prospective spouse could have been the Marquis de Sade, as long as he scrubbed up reasonably well and had a decent wad in his pocket. So beguiling was this Mrs Bennett that it was fully 20 minutes into the production before I remembered that the actress was none other than my parents’ next door neighbour!
Another show-stealing performance came from Anthony Muzzall as Mr Collins the parson, whose All Gas and Gaiters-like presence was thoroughly in keeping with the overall tone. Hugh Hemmings was endearingly stoical as Mr Bennet and Claire Wiggins [Jane], Jane Richards [Elizabeth] and Michelle Wragg [Lydia] contrasted delightfully with each other as the Bennet girls – respectively serene, principled and feckless. Peter Winstone exuded all beams and solicitousness as the prize suitor of the piece, Mr Bingley, while Philip Balding was suitably morose and then gallant as Elizabeth’s beau, Mr Darcy. Olive Smith [with long feather in her hat] came across like a demented parakeet in the splendid cameo rôle of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Maria Robinson leant a nice archness to the part of Caroline Bingley.
Remaining members of the cast, who gave unerring support under Joan Bearman’s direction were John Garland [Mr Wickham], Hazel Starns [Charlotte Lucas], Rosemary Bouchy [Lady Lucas] and Joan Braddock [Mrs Hill].
Review #2: Pride and Prejudice
Publication: Wick Newsletter
Publication Data: January 2001
Reviewer: Julie Le Manquais
Nowadays it is hard to imagine a world where there was such a great divide between those with social status based on inheritance, land, and the wealth it provided, and others who had no such advantages or had to earn their living. It is even more difficult to understand the position of women in those times. Women now have more freedom to take charge of their lives and decide for themselves, whether to settle for a humdrum role, or to strike out and become a brain surgeon, or whatever. The girls in Pride and Prejudice, set in 1808, had no aristocratic background. All they could do was sit around waiting for a husband with some social standing, praying not to end up as elderly spinsters.
The company presented Constance Cox’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s wonderful book very well, capturing its witty innuendos. The permanent set was a brilliant recreation of the houses of the time – well done the design and construction team – and to dress the stage crew to create the changes between the three different homes was a great idea. Sometimes the changes of scene appeared a little slow, but this may well have been due to the fact that we were listening to the same piece if Schubert’s Trout Quintet [the audience would have benefited from the piece being moved on each time]. The sound and lighting provided by Frances Thorne and Trevor Langley blended in seamlessly with the action of the play, and all the actors were attired in keeping with the main characteristic of their part – so accolades to Margaret Pierce and Cherry Briggs.
Mr and Mrs Bennet were very well played by Hugh Hemmings and Diane Robinson. I quite believed Mr Bennet had been married to tiresome Mrs Bennet for years. She so desperately wanted to marry her daughters off to respectable gentlemen. Their three daughters Elizabeth [Jane Richards], Jane [Claire Wiggins], Lydia [Michelle Wragg in her first major rôle for Wick] and Elizabeth’s friend, Charlotte Lucas [Hazel Starns], all found themselves to romantic feelings upon the arrival of eligible young men in the neighbourhood.
The youngest, Lydia, falls for and elopes with dashing rogue Mr Wickham [John Garland, with his trade-mark floppy hair!]. Then Jane, the eldest daughter, falls for the charming, wealthy, Mr Bingley [Peter Winstone]. Claire looked good, spoke clearly and developed a sisterly rapport with Elizabeth. Peter had the audience in stitches of laughter with his wonderful facial expressions and, dare I say it, overacting.
Moving on to Charlotte, the friend who accepts the proposal of Mr Collins [Tony Muzzall] as her only hope: the other females in the cast could learn a lot from Hazel’s deportment, which was superb. One has to wonder at her casting as the plain Charlotte [when plain is one thing she clearly is not!]. Tony was suitably absolutely obnoxious, and definitely stole the show the night I attended. An excellent characterisation.
Then we have Elizabeth, around whom the whole story revolves, and who after much battling finally falls for the dashing Mr Darcy [Philip Balding]. He is proud and she is prejudiced, but they end living happily ever after [one hopes]. It would have been nice to have seen Jane in a more flattering wig, but she played Elizabeth well, with beautiful diction and much conviction. Phillip is fortunate in having just the right look for Mr Darcy. He was totally believable, had clear and powerful command of the stage, and took much trouble with the finer details of the character and, again like Hazel, he taught us much about deportment.
I have not forgotten the other players; Joan Braddock [Mrs Hill], Maria Robinson [Caroline Bingley], Olive Smith [Lady Carrington de Bourgh] and Rosemary Bouchy [Lady Lucas]. They all portrayed good strong characters, especially Lady Catherine, whose hat nearly filled the stage!
All in all, ignoring a few clumsy moves, which the actors may have caused or could at least have avoided, the director Joan Bearman and her assistant Margaret Ockenden gave the audience an enjoyable evening at the theatre, to which we all responded with generous applause.