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“Pride and Prejudice” at NKU A Feast for the Eyes

Review by Laurel Humes of Pride and Prejudice: NKU Theatre

Northern Kentucky University has staged a picture-perfect production of Pride and Prejudice. The unfortunate problem is understanding all of the dialogue.

The original 1813 novel by Jane Austin has been filmed for movies and TV and adapted for the stage, in this version, by Jon Jory. The plot and main characters are certainly well known. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have five daughters and, in this time period, daughters cannot inherit property. So it is urgent that they marry well, in order to provide for the family after his death.

So – marriage for love or money? Class structure, gossip and the resulting misunderstandings, and social mores are  all explored by Austin.

The 21 NKU cast members are beautifully costumed in the time period; kudos to Ronnie Chamberlain. The set, designed by Karen Glass, is substantial and flexible – a lovely staircase, plus painted trees, shrubs and clouds to suit interior and exterior scenes.

The actors are all very fine at physical comedy. But it was frustrating on opening night to not be able to hear/understand all the lines. The audience loses the wit of the script, along with important plot points.

There are standouts among the cast. Mr. Bennet (Kevin Birdwhistell) and Mrs. Bennet (Katherine Salee) are absolute opposites. He is calm and slyly witty. She is giddy, overbearing, and manipulative in her efforts to see her daughters married.

Tyler Rosenblatt’s Darcy is convincingly cold and self-absorbed, so it comes as a shock when he proposes marriage to Elizabeth Bennet (Rachel Kazee), who has spent most of the first act spurning him. Part of the proposal is a listing of all the reasons she is not a good match. “You are the last man in the world I would be prevailed upon to marry,” is her reply. (For now.)

Among the other Bennet daughters, Makenzie Ruff’s Lydia is silly and annoying – exactly the way she should be portrayed. A running joke is that Mary Bennet (Melody Lindsey) is constantly reading, even when dancing at one of the several balls.

Amellia Adkins as Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine, has only a couple of scenes, but she makes the most of them. Adkins is every inch the haughty and pompous interferer who dispenses her opinions in unmistakably clear diction.

Pride and Prejudice, directed by Corrie Danieley, runs through Dec. 9 at Corbett Theatre at NKU. Call 859-572-5464 for ticket information.