United Players of Vancouver
Looking for Mr. Darcy:
Jericho Arts Centre
Reviewer: Jane Penistan
Directors: Andree Karas and Joan Bryans Choreographer: Frances Herzer Costumes: Katie Carr : Stage manager: Monica Thorsness
What could be more pleasant on a cold, damp Vancouver evening than to be welcomed into the Jericho Arts Centre by elegantly dressed 18th century ladies and gentlemen, ushered to a linen clothed table before a blazing fire, and served hot mulled cider and a delicious pastry by a winsome waiting maid. Talk about "keeping old winter at bay." In this comfortable old world drawing room, the tinkling notes of a harpsichord and the dimming lights announced the beginning of a Jane Austen evening.
The assembled guests were welcomed to the entertainment by Richard Strachan who introduced the opening scene of the programme of an anthology of dramatised excerpts from Jane Austen's novels. The company of fourteen actors assisted by three servers opened the proceedings with the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife"; and the news of the new neighbour was communicated to the assembled Bennett family.
Succeeding scenes were introduced by various members of the cast, and were interspersed with songs. The incidents flowed smoothly from one to another, admirably accompanied on the harpsichord by Frances Herzer who supported the singers and dancers.
Members of the company played several different roles, but
where a character appeared more than once, that character
was played by the same actor throughout. Thus, there was no confusion over who was who.
Lara Tansay as Elizabeth Bennet was always spirited and forthright, while Naomi Wright was the managing, matchmaking Emma who ultimately accepted Mr. Knightly's (James Gill), reprimands and her own shortcomings, as well as his proposal of marriage.
Of the older generation, Annie Smith played an assortment of mothers, including Mrs. Bennett; Joan Bryans was the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the socially conscious Mrs. Jennings. Derek Carr never faltered in a variety of roles as sophisticated country gentlemen.
Robert Meister's singing also delighted the company, as did his role as the faithful Captain Wentworth. Of all the talented company, the most versatile was Frances Herzer who acted as several middle aged ladies; she also played all the accompaniments as well as the bridging music; and the choreographer as well.
It was unfortunate for the United Players that their opening night took place on a wintry night, as the snow kept many guests from attending this premiere. However, there are still three performances left on Thursday through Saturday, until Jan 17, 2004. So, those who were prevented by the weather from attending this delightful evening still have the opportunity to enjoy Looking for Mr. Darcy
© 2003, Jane Penistan