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03Dec

Pride and Prejudice, Riverside High School, Leesburg, Virginia, November 30, 2018

Elizabeth DeProspo

Stone Bridge High School

 

Complete with genteel ballrooms, blossoming romance, and a seriously shrill mother, Riverside High School's production of Pride and Prejudice provided an intimate and entertaining look at the complicated and often emotional process of finding a proper spouse in early 18th century England.

 

The novel, originally published by pioneer female author Jane Austen in 1813, was adapted into a play by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan. The romantic comedy follows Elizabeth Bennett, a young woman who navigates the parties and ballrooms of England along with her myriad of marriage-eligible sisters, occasionally being encouraged (or rather, shoved) toward wealthy potential suitors by her well-meaning mother. Elizabeth soon encounters the suave and reserved Mr. Darcy, but vindictive gossip from other sources and shaky initial interactions with Darcy leave her reluctant to cast aside her prejudices toward him, despite Darcy's wit and genuine connection with her.

 

Autumn Anderson's portrayal of Elizabeth was rooted in genuine emotion, delivering each line with Elizabeth Bennett's signature combination of strength and passion. Whether making a sharp remark or reacting to the stories of one her sisters, her crisp diction and refined body language ensured that the audience was entranced by her every action. Mr. Darcy's (Jack Gutierrez) proud and reserved disposition melted away as he fell for Elizabeth, revealing a more sensitive side of him that had not been obvious at first glance. Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship was backed with such strong emotions that it felt as though the audience had the opportunity to watch the couple fall in love onstage. In contrast to Elizabeth and Darcy's more genuine attraction, Elizabeth's sleazy cousin, Mr. Collins (Jack Darnell), provided comic relief as he flirted and offended his way through the homes of the upper and middle class families of England.

 

Although Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's relationship often took center stage, the supporting characters and ensemble members were not to be missed. Mrs. Bennett's (Brigid Randolph) well-timed shrieking and hysterical fits tempered her daughter Elizabeth's more subtle, witty humor. During party or ballroom scenes featuring large groups of people, pairs of ensemble members danced and held realistic conversations in the background, but they enacted their parts silently so as not to pull attention away from the main focus of the scene.

 

The multilevel set was utilized so each scene flowed easily into the next without being hindered by lengthy scene changes. The simple arrangement of elegant furniture on one side of the stage and open space on the other allowed for the set to easily be used as the Bennett's parlor one minute and a ballroom the next without any distractions.The background lights that demonstrated the time of day by displaying soft oranges or dark blues fit well with the story, while managing not to detract attention from the main focus of the show-- the characters and their relationships and interactions.

 

Although Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was written more than 200 years ago, the actors and actresses of Riverside High School brought to life a message that could resonate with anyone, regardless of time period: falling in love is the one process that no sum of money, social status, or family member can stop.


Taegan Pratt

Robinson Secondary School

 

The students at Riverside High School have reason to be prideful indeed after their spectacularly well done opening performance of Pride and Prejudice on Friday, November 30th. Pride and Prejudice, which ran until the 2nd of December, is a comedic play based off of Jane Austen's classic novel of the same name, adapted by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan. The story follows Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters as their rambunctious mother tries to marry them off to rich men. Elizabeth, a clever and independent girl, learns much about the judgment of others as she falls in love with the seemingly arrogant and standoffish Mr. Darcy.

 

Set in 1811, Pride and Prejudice provided a challenge for both actors and technical workers to produce the illusion of being from that time period. Riverside's cast and crew handled the challenge with grace, authentically recreating the Georgian era on stage.

 

Controlled body language and impressive English accents demonstrated great care by the actors to maintain the image of high class men and women. Throughout the entire ensemble, actors gave nuanced and skilled performances. Autumn Anderson and Jack Gutierrez (Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy respectively) in particular retained a chemistry on stage, despite their characters icy actions towards one another.

 

Anderson portrayed Elizabeth with an elegance and poise rarely seen by high school actresses. She was serene and firm, commanding the stage at all times, even mastering scenes with no one but herself so that they would be fascinating and engaging. Additionally, Elizabeth's kind heart shone through her genuine reactions to fellow actors and her ability to liven up a scene with her nearly tangible emotions.  Gutierrez, whom she played off well, was a star in his own right. Displaying his dynamic abilities as a capable and honest actor, he showed considerable character growth from Act 1 to Act 2. His overall performance felt real and intense.

 

In like manner, the supporting actors and actresses tackled their characters with brilliance, making even the smaller roles stand out. Brigid Randolph (Mrs. Bennet) performed with zeal and impeccable comedy. Her over-the top interactions with the other actors were a hilarious contrast to the polite and often reserved interactions between many others in the cast. Michael James Lawless (Mr. Bingley) was a charmer on stage and fit together perfectly with Cailor Macintyre (Jane Bennet), who stole the show in quiet moments. Sophia Grado (Caroline Bingley) was sassy and articulate, and she carried with her an air of poison that quite fit her mean-girl character. All together, the acting in the cast was strong and entertaining.

 

A highly skilled technical crew supported the powerful cast. The set design utilized every bit of space available, creating a two-layered mansion with historically accurate accents and a feminine touch that enhanced the nature of the show. Furniture was both aesthetic and practical, as it was used by the cast to differentiate locations in a unit set. Cast members were cleverly dressed as maids and moved furniture pieces about the stage during scene changes, making the transitions smooth while keeping the posh environment intact.

 

To successfully stage a story so loved and well known is a particularly difficult ambition, and yet  Riverside High School proved to be completely up to the task. Its production of Pride and Prejudice was a joy for all to watch, pleasing both younger and older audience members, and pulling the entire theatre into Georgian England.

 

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