Pride and Prejudice

Has COVID-19 stripped audiences of their manners? We reveal how people are behaving at the theatre!

By Andrew Andrews

Original photo by Andrew Neel from unsplash.com.

County Players brings the mid-Hudson Valley back into the Falls Theatre with Kate Hamill’s farcical adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel of manners.

In case you don’t know the story: Mrs. Bennet tries all-too-desperately to marry off at least one of her many daughters, in hopes of securing an adequate annuity and a male heir to inherit the family estate after the expected death of her indifferent husband.

The oldest daughter, Jane, is eager to find a match in her well-to-do new neighbor Mr. Bingley, but her sister Lizzy wants nothing to do with Bingley’s even-more-eligible friend Mr. Darcy.

While the novel is more subtle in its attack on Regency era society, Hamill’s campy adaptation bars no holds, and the delivery by the County Players feels a bit like watching the story performed by The Munsters or The Aadams Family: Mary Bennet is portrayed as a towering ogre by actor Scott Wooley, and Anne de Bourgh is depicted as a veiled gremlin with a five-word vocabulary.

Although Jane Austen fans expecting historical fiction in the form of a romantic drama will undoubtedly be disappointed in this production, I thoroughly enjoyed the farce, and found it most appropriate for a modern, feminist audience.

It’s clear that the County Players are having a lot of fun with its performance, and most of the audience seemed to be laughing along with me throughout the show.

On a sparse set consisting of rearranged chairs against a background of empty gilded picture frames, the cast leveraged extravagant costumes to effectively divide a plethora of roles across the eight of them.

Although a few of the actors could have clearly used more time to better memorize their lines, my biggest complaint about this show was the behavior of the audience, which seemed to forget their theatre-going manners during their pandemic-induced absence: in addition to the low hum of chatter throughout the performance, I saw people (old enough to know better) playing with their phones, disregarding announcements to take their seats, and even removing their shoes to get comfortable!

The Falls Theatre is just a short Uber ride from Metro North’s New Hamburg station, and at the risk of sounding like Mr. Darcy, I encourage anyone from the city who’s looking for a fun night out to bring some better manners upstate for the County Players’ production of Pride and Prejudice.

The performance might not be quite as entertaining as The Play That Goes Wrong, but it’s certainly a hoot, and worth every penny for the adventure.

4

Andrew Andrews attended Pride and Prejudice at Falls Theatre in Wappingers Falls on Friday, July 9, 2021 @ 8:00pm to write this review.