Review Round Up: Pride & Prejudice* (*Sort of), Criterion Theatre

We round up the reviews for the West End production based on the classic Jane Austen Novel.

(c)Matt Crockett

WhatsOnStage: **** “It’s all very silly and very funny. Sometimes it goes over the top, but what is extraordinary is the way that by dint of wearing a jacket over a petticoat, or pulling on a dress or a different hat, all the actors change characters so effortlessly. Hannah Jarrett-Scott has enormous fun as a Hooray Henry of a Bingley, and even more swooshing around as his malicious sister, constantly trying to put herself into Darcy’s sight-line. She also plays the trumpet. It is that kind of show.”

The Arts Desk: ***** “Like all the best productions, this one is built out of love. McArthur’s affection for her source material shines through in every line. It’s in the space given to minor characters: Charlotte Lucas, who ends up marrying Mr Collins, has an unspoken love for her best friend Elizabeth, which Jarrett-Scott plays with tenderness. But it’s also there in lower-brow moments. Elizabeth points out that Lady Catherine won’t be very happy with Darcy’s decision to marry her, and Darcy, appearing to surprise even himself, yells “FUCK LADY CATHERINE”. Jane would be proud.”

London *** “Ana Inés Jabares-Pita’s effective set features a big, winding staircase stuffed with books and a dangling chandelier (yes, there’s a Phantom joke), juxtaposed amusingly with the karaoke machine, and Colin Grenfell’s crisp lighting cues punctuate the humour. Everything scales up nicely to fit the Criterion. Now, it’s up to audiences to decide whether they need more Austen in their lives and if this production earns her triumphant happy ending.”

British **** “You don’t need to know, or even like, Austen’s books to enjoy the show but there are a few in-jokes thrown in for Austen fans as well as satirical commentary on her novels and the patriarchal, unequal society of her time. It highlights how women were in vital need of a husband for economic reasons and how working-class stories – namely servants – were rarely represented in fiction. The story and characters are placed in a 21st-century context, touching on toxic masculinity and other topical issues. But it never becomes overly didactic, prioritising laughs and broad anarchic comedy with little letup in its well-oiled momentum.”

Pocket Size Theatre: ***** “Overall the show is chaotic but in the best possible way. Sometimes it is rushed, sometimes a joke isn’t perfect – but it doesn’t matter, because it never stops being fun for a second. I couldn’t give it less than five stars because I didn’t once stop smiling or wonder what time it was – from start to finish, theirs was a telling I was more than happy to be caught up in. McArthur’s take on the classic never fails to surprise, pulling un-predictably comic moments out of every reference, character, and trope on offer. This is a wonderful show to go see to have a really great laugh and leave with a big smile on your face – Pride and Prejudice fan or not!”

Lou Reviews: “This is a raucous and entertaining evening from five talented women which will make you feel good and go home smiling. You don’t need to know the novel already to enjoy, although you will pick up more mondnts of fun if you do.”

Evening Standard: **** “But this must be the hardest working cast in the West End, with each of the five constantly jumping into new characters, spinning out of costumes and picking up musical instruments. Hannah Jarrett-Scott’s Sloaney pony versions of Charles Bingley and his sister Caroline are hilarious, as is McArthur as ‘mard arse’ Darcy and an inhaler-puffing Mrs Bennet. This show ribs the characters mercilessly – Mr Collins appears by walking out of a toilet and spraying everyone with his wet hands, which is totally something he would do – but a deep affection for the source material is never in doubt.”

Time Out: *** “Not that there’s anything wrong with the Austen comfort zone: the West End is the perfect place for it, and the fact the audience were both laughing along with the new jokes and cheering at the unchanged romantic resolution of the story is a measure of this production’s ability to have its cake and eat it. And Tyler’s Lizzie is consistently brilliant, like she’s wandered in from an edgier production entirely.”

The Guardian: **** “When the energy dips, the actors pick it back up and come to a roaring end. However inconceivable a production it sounds, with its karaoke numbers and its silliness, it creates something new and joyous from the old.”

London Theatre Reviews: ***** “This is the perfect show for all from the Austenites/Austen aficionados, to those who are simply looking for a feel-good show.”

The Reviews Hub: ***** “This show is an absolute triumph: inventive, fast-paced and wildly funny. And while it follows Austen’s plot faithfully, it is delightfully sassy thanks to Isobel McArthur’s zingy dialogue.”

Pride & Prejudice* (*Sort Of) continues to play at the Criterion Theatre. To book tickets visit: Love Theatre.comTheatre Tickets and London Theatre Direct .

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