Osbourn Park High School
The Rambunctious Theatre Company at Robinson Secondary School promised that their production of Pride and Prejudice "isn't your grandma's Jane Austen!"
Originally written in 1813, Pride and Prejudice is hailed as one of the most iconic social commentaries- and more importantly, love stories- of all time. Jane Austen's work is well known even today, and is the subject of many movie and stage adaptations. Over 200 years later, Kate Hamill's stage adaptation takes a slightly more modern approach to the classic, relying more on slapstick comedy and larger-than-life expressions than Austen's original dry satire.
The story follows the Bennet family, who, led by the wealth-obsessed Mrs. Bennet, have four daughters and no sons, meaning that once Mr. Bennet dies, all of their belongings will go to their closest male relative, and the Bennets will lose their economic status. In an attempt to earn her daughters riches, Mrs. Bennet encourages her daughters to go after wealthy men. The girls face many different men with different pasts. Chaos ensues, but despite the difficulties faced, the girls manage to navigate life in a time when women weren't allowed to.
From the very first scene, the ensemble's energy and commitment to the comedy helped to set the tone for the show. During each scene transition, the ensemble stood at the edge of the stage in a series of entertaining vignettes. Every member of the ensemble was over-the-top, providing entertainment for the audience during the transitions, whether portraying an unhappy couple or branches blowing through the wind.
A huge standout was Kira Gilligan as Mary, who drew attention wherever she went, remaining in character the entire show as she trudged around the stage. The delivery of all of Gilligan's lines left the audience howling with laughter as the new version of the character quickly became both creepy and loveable.
Standing strong at the eye of the hurricane were Ella Brown as Lizzy and Lukas Simcox as Darcy. Both displayed strong commitment to the classic characters they were portraying. In every moment with the rambunctious Bennets, Brown grounded the scene, reminding the audience of the show's roots. Simcox remained stoic for the majority of the show, but managed to show Darcy's feelings for Lizzy with a gleam in his eye. Brown and Simcox worked well onstage together, creating a complex relationship for the audience to root for.
The set, designed by Arwen Oshry, Ella Dyal, Liam Koenig, and Acer Nicholson, utilized several key pieces arranged in different ways for different locations. These set pieces became a playground for the actors, and despite only using a few main pieces, the designers managed to create a dynamic set that worked well for every scene. In addition to the set pieces, in order to keep the theme of roses present throughout the show, students painted roses onto the front of the stage.
Another standout design came from the costumes by Lora-Berkeley Macaranas, Xia Klosk, Cameron Schemer, and Riley Baker. Each of the main characters had their own signature color, and, continuing with the theme of roses, each character with a love interest wore a color found in a bouquet of flowers. The costume crew also sewed many of the dresses themselves, putting in a lot of effort to make the designs historically accurate.
A night filled with laughs, cheers, and frat boys, the Rambunctious Theatre Company's production of Pride and Prejudice was a story of love and chaos. This new spin on Jane Austen's classic taught an important lesson on how in order to have love, one needs to embrace the chaos.
Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School
Should one marry for money or for love, or even get married at all? Robinson Secondary School’s production of Pride and Prejudice explored this question through the eyes of the members of the Bennet family, who each had very different opinions. Based on the beloved classic by Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice, adapted by Kate Hamill, tells the story of the four Bennet sisters and their journeys to finding love. The story centers on Elizabeth Bennet, affectionately called Lizzy, who had sworn off marriage, as she slowly starts falling for the opinionated and arrogant Mr. Darcy. Lizzy aided her three sisters, the romantic Jane, the socially challenged Mary, and the naïve Lydia, find their ways all while learning that maybe falling in love isn’t such a bad thing.
With impressive commitment, coordination, and boundless energy, the entire cast and crew gave their all to create a memorable and exciting take on the classic story. Each member of the ensemble had their own unique personality and backstory that was always expressed, regardless of if they were the focus of the scene or not. The ensemble also greatly aided in keeping the audience engaged through scene changes as they danced and moved in character while moving the set pieces or as they silently acted out mini scenes as they walked in front of the stage. All the tech elements also worked seamlessly together to create a romantic and historically accurate environment that gave the actors a perfect backdrop to portray both the comedic and the dramatic scenes in the show.
At the center of the show was the evolving love story between Lizzy (played by Ella Brown) and Darcy (played by Lukas Simcox). Brown and Simcox excelled at showing the development of their relationship from an initial hatred to eventually falling hopelessly for each other. Brown was able to show the internal struggle of her character as she was falling for Darcy through her constant composure which only faltered when she was with Darcy, who caused her to slowly break down until she had no choice but to give in to her feelings. Simcox took the stoic and seemingly emotionless character of Mr. Darcy and, while still maintaining an emotionless front, was able to show his feelings for Lizzy through his eyes and slight changes in his facial expressions.
Providing much comic relief was the sweet and innocent Mr. Bingley (played by Benjamin Fredericks), Mr. Darcy’s good friend and Jane Bennet’s suitor. Fredericks showed his character’s joy in finding love through his excited little hops and movements and his bashful facial expressions when talking with Jane (played by Erin Oedemann). Fredericks also excelled at showing Mr. Bingley’s innocent outlook on life through his dog-like behaviors and excitability.
The costumes (by Lora-Berkeley Macaranas, Xia Klosk, Cameron Schermer, and Riley Baker), many of which were handmade, helped to express the personalities of the characters through the colors present, like the bright red for the boisterous and overdramatic Mrs. Bennet or how the colors on Jane’s and Bingley’s costumes matched, showing how they were meant for each other. The set (by Arwyn Oshry, Ella Dyal, Liam Koenig, and Acer Nicholson), although minimal, was so versatile that its few rolling pieces were able to transform the stage into a number of different locations.
Filled with laughter, dancing, and heartfelt moments, Robinson Secondary School’s production of Pride & Prejudice brought the joys of sisterhood and of finding love to life in a classic tale tastefully mixed with modern comedy that left the audience longing for more.