Last night we went to see Oxford Theatre Guild’s production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The part of Elizabeth Bennet was played by none other than our very own U.S. Admissions Co-ordinator, Laurence Goodwin!
Oxford Theatre Guild’s production of Peter Kenvyn Jones’s adaptation of the novel is utterly delightful and superbly cast. The set is deliberately simple and combines with the magical environment of Trinity College Gardens to provide a fitting backdrop to the story that unfolds. Austen’s appeal lies in the economy of her wit and her ability to express the human condition with such timeless resonance.
In this particular production, the interrogation of Austen’s central theme of marriage is handled with a light touch. While Wickham’s hideous exploitation of Lydia is clearly revealed, the depth of his perversions is not dwelt upon in a manner that truly disturbs the audience’s enjoyment as the play progresses. The despair with which Mr. Bennet regards his family is equalled by his obvious devotion to the women that set out to run (ruin) his life! Even Mrs. Bennet’s superficiality and her rabid social aspirations for her daughters are offset with a level of humour that renders her endearing. Indeed, the Bennet seniors’ relationship is portrayed in such a way as to suggest that marriage provides a great deal more of value than social and financial security in this story.
Nonetheless, the play’s romantic climax is still deeply touching and the audience’s sigh was testament to our collective immersion in the romance. And much of this is due to the fine performance of our own Laurence Goodwin. It is truly faultless. Whether in the midst of an indignant tirade, temporarily remorseful, or simply pausing between her speeches to interact with the rest of the cast, Laurence is utterly compelling.
Go and see the play while you still can!