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Priory Theatre review: Mr Bennet's Bride

Mr Bennet’s Bride, Priory Theatre, Kenilworth, until Saturday, April 9.

By Ashley Hayward.

Written by Emma Wood, this play is a prequel to Jane Austen’s classic 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice.

We are shown how the Bennet sisters' parents initially get together but the play certainly stands alone and you do not have to be familiar with Pride and Prejudice to find it highly enjoyable.

Young James Bennet is given an ultimatum by his father to either find a wife or be disinherited.

The family’s attorney immediately seizes on this as an opportunity for his daughter to marry into a family well above their station

The daughter is rather shallow and extremely giggly but Bennet Junior is very attracted by her beauty,, much to the dismay of Bennet’s obnoxious cousin Benedict who stands to gain considerably if there is no male offspring within the Bennet family.

There are some excellent performances and the cast work extremely hard to do justice to the superb script. There was the odd stuttering over lines but I’m sure this was attributable to nothing more than first night nerves.

The costumes and sets look really authentic and the challenges of set changes (as the action takes place in two entirely different houses) are met very slickly and accompanied by appropriate music of the period.

The play may be set in the late 18th Century but its themes of class, social mobility, greed and loveless marriages are absolutely timeless.

Particular praise must be given to Emma Wood for her clever and sophisticated script of which I’m sure even highly devoted Austenians would approve.

I doubt however that Emma will ever see her face on the back of a £10 note!

Pictured above: Jo Beckett as Sarah Gardiner; Nicky Main, as Mary Ellingworth and Ruth Jones as Mrs Bowman.


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