‘Pride and Prejudice’ at Aldersgate Church Community Theater

Aldersgate Church Community Theater presents Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, dramatized by Jane Kendall and directed by Mary Ayala-Bush. This particular adaptation highlights the lighter, more humorous aspects of the story, making it a great night for a romantic comedy!

The Bennet family. Photo courtesy of Aldersgate Church Community Theater.
The Bennet family. Photo courtesy of Aldersgate Church Community Theater.

Set in the home of the elite Bennet family in early 19th century England, designers Becky Patton and Dennis Roddy use sweeping draperies and framed artwork to lavishly decorate the parlor. A balcony opens up into the family gardens, which are beautifully painted by De Nicholson-Lamb and Eddy Roger Parker. Lighting Designer Jeff Auerbach does a fine job with his cues, and Sound designer David Corriea uses effects such as squeaking carriage wheels and the clip-clopping of horse hooves to enhance the atmosphere. Ceci Albert makes the costumes era-appropriate with ribbon-waisted dresses and coattails, but I think the style of the age was best shown in the tightly-curled wigs by Jesse Rosario. Overall, the technical elements all worked well together to serve as a great foundation for the actors.

The plot centers around a mother’s desperate fixation to find husbands and settled futures for her five daughters amidst the English upper-class. The overdramatic, riotous role of Mrs. Bennet is played by Heather Norcross, who does a spectacular job! She flits about the stage in a constant state of distress, bemoaning her frayed nerves and guilting her daughters the way only an overbearing mother can. The Bennets’ oldest daughter Jane (Casey Enochs) is modest and sweet, and the second eldest Elizabeth (Jenni Patton) is proud, intelligent, and unwavering. While the play is mainly focused around the two eldest sister’s positions, the family is rounded out with the smug, bookish Mary (Emily Roddy), and the frivolous, flirty youngest daughters, Catherine (Isabella Lovain) and Lydia (Clare Baker, in my performance.)

Bachelors become to come forward as prospects for the Bennet girls, with varying reactions and outcomes. Elizabeth is horrified by the fervent courtship of Mr. Collins (Gary Cramer), a foolish distant cousin of Mr. Bennet (Cal Whitehurst) who is set to inherit the estate. Jane falls in love with the proper Mr. Bingley (Brendan DeBie) despite her cold reception from his haughty, influential sister Miss Bingley (Caity Brown). A good deal of politics goes into upper-class marriage, and when Jane is left unfairly brokenhearted, Elizabeth blames the stiff, disagreeable family friend of the Bingleys, Mr. Darcy (John Dabeck), with whom she has a prickly relationship full of quick-witted banter and tension.

Meanwhile, the shifty and dishonest Mr. Warwick (Christian Menendez) stirs up a whole heap of trouble for the Bennet family, causing Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy to band together in a time of chaos. It seems that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are more suited for each other than they would care to admit, but will they be able to overcome their own pride and prejudices?

Elizabeth Bennet (Jenni Patton) and Mr. Darcy (John Dabeck). Photo courtesy of Aldersgate Church Community Theater.
Elizabeth Bennet (Jenni Patton) and Mr. Darcy (John Dabeck). Photo courtesy of Aldersgate Church Community Theater.

This play is a dialogue-driven one, and as it is adapted from a famous, but very long novel, it has been largely condensed. Because of this, a lot of material is squeezed into the last act, making it seem a bit rushed to finish. However, the ensemble works well together, and the performances are solid and entertaining, though Heather Norcross sweeps the show out from everyone else’s feet! In this production, the stage belongs to her.

Aldersgate Church Community Theater’s Pride and Prejudice is a very entertaining production. If turn-of-the-century English humor is your “cup of tea” (Downton Abbey fans, I’m looking at you!) then this show is for you!

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

Pride and Prejudice plays through March 29, 2015 at Aldersgate Church Community Theater – 1301 Collingwood Road,  in Alexandria, VA. Purchase your tickets at the door or online.



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