The Bennet sisters are at it again. The memorable young ladies from Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice” are back on the scene in the opening play of the 49th season of the Theater at Monmouth.

Daniel Elihu Kramer’s “Pride@Prejudice” puts a post-modern spin on the early-19th-century classic. Actors play multiple roles, step out of character to consult electronic devices, update and quiz the audience on the progress of the play, provide visual aids including charts and re-enacted snippets from movie versions of the novel and offer relevant passages from the personal correspondence of Austen.

It’s all about having a bit of clever but affectionate fun with the classic tale of manners, class consciousness and romantic purposes in a long-ago England. Just enough delectable moments of 19th-century form are retained in this production to counter the play’s obvious nod to 21st-century ways of thinking about literature.

The Bennet daughters hope to find suitable marriage partners among the moneyed class with an added urgency as their family faces financial ruin. With no immediate male heirs, the Bennets’ meager estate may go to a distant relative and leave them out in the cold. But the task is not that easy as the upper crust erects barriers that threaten the Bennets’ reputation.

The feisty Elizabeth Bennet becomes the focus as she fends off suitors, to the alarm of her mother, while struggling to resist the ultimately irresistible Mr. Darcy. The reluctant lover’s mutual discomfort with the other’s excessive pride and ensuing prejudices threads through several subplots outlining the nature of “romance” in their social milieu.

Katie Croyle plays Elizabeth with the requisite high spirits as her character seeks some measure of control in a world that she wishes were more welcoming of her independent vision. Her actions are convincingly portrayed as coming from a good heart almost too large to contain.


Marshall Taylor Thurman’s Darcy says volumes with his silences as he quietly copes with the disarmingly attractive strength of Elizabeth’s personality. Thurman has much more fun as the stumbling Mr. Collins who proposes to a fleeing Elizabeth before marrying her friend.

KP Powell as Mr. Bennet and Bibi Mama as Mrs. Bennet.

Amber McNew, as sister Jane Bennet, shares girlish confidences with Elizabeth in her prime role but also excels on the comic level in a large handful of parts. Her snotty Lady Catherine and conniving Caroline Bingley are hilariously recognizable.

Bibi Mama and KP Powell round out the cast as the senior Bennets and also fill several other roles. Mama is very funny as the overbearing matriarch while Powell stands out in moments calling for careful timing and a satiric attitude.

The period costumes and drawing room/library set accentuate the scholarly ambiance of this witty adaptation directed by Janis Stevens. At the final bow, it was striking to see only five performers come forward in a production that seemed to feature many more.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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