San Diego Theater Review: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (Cygnet Theatre in San Diego)

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by Milo Shapiro on June 4, 2019

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


For those who have read or seen Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, there are many nouns that come to mind such as “classic,” “drama,” “witty,” “depth,” and “struggle.” Until now, though, it would be rare to see “hilarity” on that list. In Kate Hamill’s interpretation of Austen’s tale of the four Bennett sisters, the classic plot points remain, but the emphasis is on the laughter.

The premise is simple and, like the great novel, still set in a small town in early 1800s England. Mrs. Bennett (Shana Wride) is eager to see her four daughters marry well, or, at least, as well as they can muster without a dowry. When a well-off man named Mr. Bingley (Kevin Hafso-Koppman) and his also-wealthy friend Mr. Darcy (Steven Lone) come to town for a while, all the mothers in town have their sights upon the two bachelors. The diverse personalities of the four daughters, including focal character Lizzy (Jacque Wilke), who cares not to marry, leads to intriguing drama, reflective of the time period.

While many characters — the dry, aloof Mr. Bennett (Adrian Alita), the conniving Mrs. Bennett, and self-absorbed sister Lydia (the always-strong Michelle Marie Trester) — earn their share of the laughs, nearly half the program’s laughs go to the cross-dressing Kevin Hafso-Koppman (recently so strong as the lead in SDMT’s Young Frankenstein) in his two main roles. Under Rob Lufty’s sharp direction, Hafso-Koppman transforms into a delightful clown-like simpleton as Mr. Bingley, adding physical comedy that would certainly please Ms. Hamill. But it is primarily in his role as the youngest daughter Mary — unattractive, uncouth, and eternally irritating to all — that the real humor of this play shines. Mr. Darcy and Lizzy may be more central to the plot and Lizzy does get her share of laughs as well, but with every entrance of Mary, we’re eager to see what awfulness will come with her. Quick costume changes between Bingley and Mary add to the fun.

For those who will hesitate to come because the title brings to mind stuffy language from a dusty novel, rest assured that you will not be struggling to follow this program and that the silliness throughout (right down to the inclusion of 1980s music at a ball) will kept you alert and laughing. Cygnet has found and launched a solid winner in this one.

photos by Karli Cadel

Pride And Prejudice
Cygnet Theatre Company
Old Town Theater, 4040 Twiggs St.
Wed & Thurs at 7:30; Fri at 8; Sat at 3 & 8; Sun at 2 & 7
ends on June 16, 2019
for tickets, call 619-337-1525 or visit Cygnet

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