Anyone who enjoys farce. Anyone who loves Jane Austen. Anyone who has ever watched any of the innumerable versions of Price and Prejudice.
All of the above are the types of people who will enjoy Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley, the next production at Main Street Theater, according to director Claire Hart-Palumbo.
It’s two years after the end of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but this time Darcy and Elizabeth aren’t the main characters. No, it’s middle sister Mary Bennett, the studious one apparently destined for spinsterhood, who takes center stage this time in a story designed around the Christmas season.
Co-written by prolific playwright Lauren Gunderson (Silent Sky, The Revolutionists) and Margot Melcon, this comedic tale set in 1815 plays with both society's conventions of the time and the basic human ability to make a mess of most things, never going in a straight line when a crooked path presents itself.
“Mary’s at a point where she realizes that everyone expects her to be an old maid and take care of her parents,” Hart-Palumbo says. “And she’s not sure she’s really happy with that. She’s questioning her choices.”
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A curveball arrives in the form of a bookish lord that Darcy has invited to take Christmas dinner with them (without checking with now-wife Elizabeth first). Sparks fly between the nerdish Arthur and Mary but, of course, this being a comedy, complications and all sorts of misdirections ensue and the couple is not immediately marching off in happily-ever-afterness together. Another woman swoops in and declares that Arthur is engaged to her. Egad indeed!
"This is kind of a lark for me," says Hart-Palumbo. "I know the book so well and the style, the humor of it. It's just a delight.
“This is going to be a really welcome change over the holidays to the usual Dickens. This is a completely new kind of Christmas play,” Hart-Palumbo promises.
Performances are scheduled for November 11 through December 17 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays at Main Street Theater – Rice Village, 2540 Times Boulevard. For information, call 713-524-6706 or visit mainstreettheatre.com. $36 to $45; $10 Student tickets with ID.