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Pride and Prejudice at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield

Published by: Paul Tyree on 20th May 2015 | View all blogs by Paul Tyree

Pride and Prejudice

Inpolitic (Politically incorrect) or Copolitic (Politically correct) (Totally just made up those words) smile 

sisters

(Photos by Johan Persson)

The Crucible Theatre's latest interpretation of Pride and Prejudice is a curious beast of a thing.

Probably because of the familiarity of the story the decision has been taken to employ black and ethnic minority actors in roles traditionally played by white actors. Of course if this was an all black production it would be different but because most of the roles are still played by white actors you have to begin to question why it was felt necessary to employ black actors for these roles. 

Firstly one would have to say that this was a directorial decision and has therefore to be of importance. Perhaps the director is asking the audience to accept the actors cliche that any actor should be able to play any role. (Even though that is not true - you wouldn't ask Woody Allen to play Rambo). The decision certainly doesn't affect the quality of the acting which is fine, but you do wonder what point is trying to be made by having both white and black actresses play the Bennett sisters. 

Of course most people would say that the ethnic background of actors should not matter at all. Were that true then it should not matter that Laurence Olivier played Othello, but in these enlightened times you would be hard pressed to  find any white actor cast in that role. Is that right that white actors cannot play Othello? 

You may be wondering why I'm asking such a question, and I too am in two minds as to why the director of this piece is asking us to consider it. Are we perhaps becoming too politically correct so that we now feel the need to offer roles to ethnic minority actors simply because we wish to make a statement. And exactly what the point or statement that is trying to be made is still unclear to me.

It is therefore somewhat of a distracting rather than enlightening addition to the familiar tale of Pride and Prejudice. 

As to the play itself however it is a generally pleasing although not exceptional rendering of the piece. Whilst the acting in some places is fine, Isabella Laughland as Elizabeth Bennett and Michele Austin as her mother, Mrs Bennet are both excellent and add much to this production. There are however some weaker actors notably James Northcoat as Mr Darcy is completely ineffective in the role in a rather uninspired performance.

This is a generally pleasing evening at the theatre but it has to be said that this production has the feeling of something that could and should have been so much better. 

mr darcy

Box Office: 0114 249 6000

http://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/

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