Sunday, June 23, 2019


Pride and Prejudice

Based on the novel by Jane Austen and adapted for the stage by Kirsty Budding. Directed by Kirsty Budding.. Composer, Arranger and Musician. Helen Way. Musician. Ella Ragless.Lead chorepgrapher. Naomi Casimir. Budding Theatre. Belconnen Theatre. June 18-22 2019

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

The Bennet Family in Pride and Prejudice

Kirsty Buddings production of Pride and Prejudice for Budding Theatre is a labour of love. There is love in a faithfully scripted adaptation. There is love in the enthusiastic performances of an energetic amateur cast of young performers with more experienced adult actors. It is there in loving attention to the period and to a tasteful design of four ivy bestrewn columns set against a large sumptuously painted backdrop of an English garden scene. The attention to detail in costuming, music and dance adds to the colour and flavour of Budding’s depiction of Jane Austen’s Regency world. Love is also in the response of a full house of delighted patrons. I assume that many were family and friends and they delighted in the show.
Ella Horton and Callum Wilson as
Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy
In Pride and Prejudice

It is testament to the power of Austen’s writing that her sparkling wit, gentle satire and insightful humanity still captivates the hearts of  readers two centuries after her death. It is little wonder that a production such as Budding’s staged with affection and appreciation of Austen’s depiction of flawed and noble characters should still entertain and arouse identification and empathy for the plight of Mr Bennet (Paul Gardiner), having to suffer the embarrassment of Mrs. Bennet , deliciously played with effusive blustering by Tracy Noble. Elizabeth Bennet  in a performance by Ella Horton which showed considerable promise and Mr. Darcy (Callum Wilson) prove yet again that “the course of true love never did run smooth” and Jane Austen’s humourous, yet affectionate ridicule of the clergy is well captured in John Lombard’s comical portrayal of Mr. Collins.
Adaptation is not without sacrifice to plot and character detail and it is commendable that Budding has highlighted the significant scenes and plot lines, interspersed by stately minuets and quadrilles to the  beautiful accompaniment of musical director Helen Way on piano  and Ella Ragless on piano and flute. Austen’s perspicacious glimpse of her era exposed status and class, romantic love and the nefarious motives of the villainous Mr. Wickham (Daniel Evans). Evans’s clever sleight of hand with his card trick could well have been a warning to heed Wickham’s dastardly deeds.
The Regency Period, during which Jane Austen published Pride and Prejudice concerned itself with class distinction, epitomized by the snobbish and unpleasant Lady Catherine de Bourgh,played with appropriate disdain by Joan White. Budding Theatre’s affectionate adaptation of Pride and Prejudice observes the manner and customs of the time.
Caitlin Dalgliesh as Jane Bennet and Rob Shiells as
Mr. Bingley in Pride and Prejudice

All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable amateur production of a well-loved classic romantic novel with the attention to detail required, the wit and the wisdom of Austen and a joyful sense of fun by the company of experienced and inexperienced performers. More attention to vocal work would help to improve the effectiveness of certain characterizations, as would more intensive workshops on performance technique

.Kirsty Budding continues to provide valuable performance experience for young performers to improve their performance skills and pursue their love of theatre in all its aspects. It’s an added bonus when you can also entertain an audience so that the audience member near me could loudly reply to her friend’s question about her response to the production - “I loved it!”.