Pride and Prejudice
Mad Cow Theater
By Kate Hamill
Based on a novel by Jane Austen
Directed by Tony Simotes
Starring Andrew Bosworth and Trenell Mooring
We tread with a gingerly step as we enter the hyper-realistic 19th century world of British letters. P&P stand high in that pantheon of “Must-Read” books most often approached via Cliffs note or The Wiki. But it’s a funny story of the minor nobility trading virginity for food. That’s the main skill of Mother Bennett (Robin Pruett Olson). She’s stuck with four daughters whose main charm is that middle class virginity that may net a husband good for “5000” or even “10000” Pounds Sterling in yearly income. That’s a desperate calculus: swapping virginity for future cash flow. It’s a bit like trading bonds, but with more sex. Mr. Bennett (Damany O. Riley) hopes to die early so as not to listen to Mother complaints. They have four problematic daughters and a bad rental deal some dead relative signed years ago that will toss them on the street if they cannot come up with a well-off suiter. The four girls are a mixed lot, as are the men. Lizzy (Mooring) plays the serious and emotionally unattractive daughter who swears never to marry. But she hooks up with the stern, no nonsense Mr. Darcy (Bosworth) by simply being herself. He owns the most money, and they make the best paring.
All this dry sexual wheeling and dealing exists to serve the Gods of Comedy, and they serve them well. Mrs. Olson plays her role for laughs as the blatant gold-digger mother. The cast of men form the crumbs of British aristocracy: the loud mouth preacher, the lieutenant who will never be promoted, and best of all the calculating Mr. Darcy who stalks the stage looking for a hostile takeover target. Sorting out takes the roles requires attention as everyone plays two or three characters, and they are mostly cross cast in gender. There’s a lot of brocade filling the stage ,and director Simotes juggles all that sexual energy with no small grace. as awkward people navigate a weird rule-based world. Will these people all be happy? Of course not, as mere literary devices that’s not an option. But they do point up the foibles of the aristocracy of two centuries ago. Today our morals may be looser, but our drive for riches grows every bit as strong as we see on tonight’s stage.