Review: Pride and Prejudice, Chapterhouse Theatre Company

I first went to see an outdoor play last year when I went to see Sense and Sensibility in the grounds of Lanercost Priory and since then have been hoping to see another. As it happened, a visit home for the bank holiday weekend coincided with another Jane Austen performance by the Chapterhouse Theatre Company. This time I was able to see Pride and Prejudice outside the priory and rather than going on my own I was accompanied by James and my family.

Like the previous show, this one was prefaced with a word of warning about the weather: “if it rains, you’ll get wet”. This is a necessity in the English summertime, particularly when living in the North. Sure enough, it rained and so we all got rather wet. Luckily for the actors, the bulk of the rain fell in the interval which meant that they were largely able to keep dry. However, the props and the grass got quite wet so I felt very sorry for the actors who then had to sit on the seats or the floor, leaving them with wet patches on the backs of their dresses.

I thought that the performance was done very well, and once again it was clever the way the roles were divided between the different actors, with all except one playing multiple parts. Mr and Mrs Bennett’s characters were done particularly well. Mr Darcy was a bit too stiff and formal for my liking as the contrast in his character at the beginning and end of the play was far more dramatic than I thought it was in the book, and you didn’t really see the development of character over time – it was all a bit sudden. However, all in all I thought the performance was very good.

Something I would advise is not sitting directly in front of a speaker… The atmospheric birdsong cut right through us, and also it was difficult to hear some of the conversation when the characters were dancing as it was drowned out by the music being played. With an outdoor play it is key to get there early so that you can find a decent spot and also defend it from other people. As there are no allocated seats you need to find somewhere appropriate yourself.

Overall I once again thoroughly enjoyed the production and hope that when next summer comes around I will make it to another outdoor performance. Have you been to see anything this summer?

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