Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 22, 2023

Review: Hartford Stage “Pride and Prejudice"

Hartford Stage, Hartford, CT
October 12-November 5, 2023
by Shera Cohen

Photo by T. Charles Erickson
The opening play of Hartford Stage’s 60th Anniversary cannot have been more befitting than “Pride and Prejudice”. So many of HS’s production elements over the decades are here; primarily “the old chestnut” coupled with slick and hip twists. This is P&P for new and current theatre folk, with a tip of the hat to Jane Austen’s novel.

Lately, it seems the norm for one actor to portray numerous and even simultaneous roles. This device doesn’t always work; however, it adds even more humor to the comedies than the original script ever intended. Austin would be pleased, as does the audience.

Director Tatyana-Marie Carlo moves her impeccably costumed characters bounding here and there on the exquisite, often rotating 19th century set. Using the theatre aisles adds a welcome closeness to the audience.

Carlo has elected to first go for fun and schtick, and then story. Both works fine together. Although, the former adds about a half-hour to the play’s time. Several dialogue snips, less repetitive prop movement, and omitted dummies would make P&P perfect.

The plot is the grueling task of Mrs. Bennett to marry off her four daughters. While actress Lana Young could attempt subtlety, she opts for slapstick to outright throwing potential mates together to see if a rich hubby becomes her future son-in-law. 

Balancing her mission is the low-key Mr. Bennet, played by Anne Scurria. The character sits in his comfy chair and reads the newspaper, just like a retired man should. Mr. B’s few lines of indifference toward his offsprings’ future are successfully played for laughs. 

The girls depend on mom’s strategies. Then, there’s Lizzie, our straight-man (woman) heroine, in this family of crazies. Determined to be a spinster, Renata Eastlick shows Lizzie as assertive and principled, yet charming with a slow willingness to change.

María Gabriela González as Jane, plays her role of weakness well, although a little too well, to the point that she is hardly noticed. Perhaps as the play continues its run, Gonzalez will put a little backbone into her role.

The younger sisters, Lydia and Mary, Zoë Kim and Madeline Barker, respectively, bring on the biggest laughs. While Kim is hysterical, volume doesn’t necessarily make for humor. She needs a little toning down. Barker doesn’t have much dialogue, yet her grunts, lunges, squeals, and  pantomime-like gestures create an amazingly bizarre and funny Mary.

To the men in “Pride and Prejudice, it is no spoiler that the uppity, proud, and prejudiced Darcy, played by Carman Lacivita, will pair with Lizzie. Lacivita is aloof in his role, although a suggestion would be to subtly speed up Darcy’s hidden genuine personality.

Back to actor Anne Scurria, Mr. Bennet, it is later in the story when he becomes a Mrs. Doubtfire-like neighbor lady, and it is a hoot.

Taking on lots of deserved stage-time is Sergio Mauritz Ang. Over-the-top is putting it gently when describing Ang’s immense talents. He switches characters, costumes, and hairdos in a heartbeat, each funnier than the last.