It is the classic story of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, as re-imagined by playwright Kate Hamill complete with anachonisms (is there a Beyonce song in there somewhere during a scene change?) while still sticking true to the premise of the original.
There's pride and prejudice galore from Elizabeth Bennet and her yet-to-be-realized true love Mr. Darcy. And the journey that both of them go on to break through barriers of their own making is filled with humor and telling moments that still ring as true today as they did in the 1800s
Kim Tobin-Lehl is directing the 4th Wall Theatre Company production and stresses that no one should mistake this for a spoof of Austen's work. (Hamill has also given us her special version of Austen's Sense & Sensibility. )
"If you’re a fan of Jane Austen and you have a special place in your heart you still can come to this play. The story is not at all taken apart. She does not make fun of Pride & Prejudice," Tobin-Lehl says. "Pride & Prejudice is still very much kept close to her heart and still beautifully touching and lovely
"But what is so wonderful about what Kate does is she s poignantly and comiedically points out the absolute humor are so ridiculous at times in how they approach relationships and how they deal with courtships."
Amy Mire plays Elizabeth opposite Justin Doran's Mr. Darcy. They are the only actors who stay with one character throughout the two-act play. The others each play two roles in the fast-paced plot.
"I’ve loved Jane Austen for a long time," Mire says. "It’s very different. It’s the same story line but basically Kate Hamill's take on it. It's definitely more modern. It's hilarious. I've never done a play like this."
"Lizzie is an exciting character because she's so different from the other characters," Mire says. "There's nothing simple about Lizzie."
A 2009 graduate of Sam Houston State, Mire acted in several productions in the Houston area and elsewhere, then took a few years off to have her daughter but is back acting again. She got into acting originally because she was shy as a child and her mother thought it might make her more confident in public. Something obviously worked.
Tobin-Lehl, who worked with Mire before, thought she would be perfect for the part of Lizzie. "Her energy is so playful. She has a real sense of natural stamina and a mischievous kind of combativeness, which is so right for Lizzie."
A crucial element to the plot is that "Lizzie doesn't know herself as well as she thinks," Mire says. As it turns out neither does Darcy. There were some special cultural customs going on at that time that amplified that, says Tobin-Lehl.
"In any era relationships are approached like game playing instead of being about love and how we make mistakes. Particularly in that era when relationships were matched based on class," Tobin-Lehl says. "Women couldn’t have a job. They couldn’t take care of themselves. Lizzie doesn’t want to have any part of that world."
"Hamill elevates all the comedic elements of the period and she highlights the comedic element about how men and women are so often pretty ridiculous. They miss things and think they’re so smart when they’re actually being dumb," Tobin-Lehl says.
"We thought this was would be a fun holiday production ," Tobin-Lehl says. "It's joyful and silly and heartwarming. If you think you know what like to see a Jane Austen play you’re going to be pleasantly surprised."
Performances are scheduled for November 30 through December 22 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Also 7:30 p.m. Monday, December 17 at Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street. For information, call 832-786-1849 or visit 4thwallteatreco.com
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