Pringles & Wagon Wheels: Gags aplenty as Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) arrives at Newcastle Theatre Royal
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Jane Austen meets the pomp of Bridgerton and the farce of Mr Bean in a hilarious reimagining of Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) at the Newcastle Theatre Royal this week.
As Geordies take their seats for the modern retelling of the Austen classic at the theatre, actresses playing Georgian servants put on immersive theatre between the rows.
Wearing plain write frocks and brashly bustling about amongst spectators, you're sure this must just be a warm-up before the show begins - or maybe the Theatre Royal staff have got some overly keen interns in?
Then a bell rings around the theatre, the maids disappear and then reappear on stage to launch into an exposition. "Maybe you weren't expecting us?" they quip.
Leah Jamieson, Lucy Gray, Emmy Stonelake, Megan Louise Wilson and Dannie Harris are the five fresh-faced actresses who dazzle at Newcastle. Where Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of), brilliantly written by Isobel McArthur, excels is in that young and playful cast.
Each actress plays a handful of characters to breathe new life into the infamous characters of Mr Darcey, Mr Bingham, Mr Whickham and the now cooky Bennet family. The chopping and changing of costumes add to the play's loveable farce and the audience falls hook, line and sinker for each actress' talent.
From "pissy chamberpots" to Pringles cans and a Jane Aust-Bin to a plate of Wagon Wheels, the gags move from slapstick to subtle with aplomb. The script is also littered with f-bombs and colourful language in moments of satiric heartbreak and anger, with every unexpected swear word bringing out a bigger laugh than the previous.
Nonetheless, this isn't just a chance for the five young actresses to blitz around the Theatre Royal stage taking a sword to Austen's work. Dated ideas of manhood and courtship are ripped to shreds, but there's a warm love for the timeless tale that struts that fine line between respectful and hilarious.
There's something for musical fans too with moments of song showcasing a cast that truly can do it all - a nod to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days with 'You're So Vein' a highlight.
The Geordie crowd are still giggling amongst themselves as they spill out of the theatre, every couple and group of friends eager to re-tell a different joke that had them chuckling in their seat. No doubt in weeks to come, those discussions will still be ongoing.
Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) plays at the Newcastle Theatre Royal until Saturday, January 28.