Chicago Theatre Review
Only the Ill Mannered Would Miss This “Pride and Prejudice”
By Lazlo Collins
Lifeline Theatre’s “Pride and Prejudice” is a thrilling and wholly satisfying evening at the theater. I really didn’t want it to end! This adaptation by Lifeline Ensemble Member Christina Calvit is right on the money. Its pace is breezy and free thanks to the direction of another Lifeline Ensemble Member Elise Kauzlaric. It never takes is self too seriously. The story of the perceived impertinence of one Elizabeth Bennet, as she navigates between her parents, sisters, friends and suitors, is a winning one. I grinned from ear to ear during this lovely and wistful production.
As the action moves through the life and times of the Bennet’s and those that surround them, the ensemble comes together to deliver a beautiful lesson of manners, impressions, and hopes of love.
In the center of all story is Elizabeth Bennet (Laura McClain). With her mother’s mad dash to have all her daughters married, Elizabeth has a lot to say to her parents. (As well as keeping the audience in her confidence) Ms. McClain’s sweet and smart portrayal of a woman discovering herself and her feelings of one Mr. Darcy (Dennis Grimes) is amazing. And speaking of the dashing Darcy, Mr. Grimes is smashing. He not only looks and acts the part, but will melt your heart with his contemplation of good deeds and ultimately love. McClain and Grimes have a great onstage chemistry.
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet is another pair with great theatrical flair. Mrs. Bennet (Cameron Feagin) plays the part of the meddling mother and mostly hysterical antics that keep the family rolling their eyes. Ms. Feagin is outstanding and just reaches the edge of “over the top”, but safely pulls her character back just in time to move on to her next victim to listen to. Mr. Bennet (Don Bender) is the opposite as the quiet, removed parent who has time for the foolishness of his daughters; except one, his favorite, Elizabeth. Mr. Bender’s love of his family and yet contempt at the same time are evident and well crafted.
Phil Timberlake as the puzzling Mr. Collins was outstanding. His subtle timing and gentle demeanor was spot on throughout the show. He was a joy to watch.
As stand outs among the proper and precocious cast is Amanda Drinnkal, as the calm oldest daughter, Jane Bennet, the prickly Lady Catherine played by Jan Sodaro, and as the dashing Mr. Wickham, James Gasber. All three had some outstanding moments moving this entertaining story along.
A gentlemanly bow and huzzahs to the original music and sound designer Christopher Kriz for his outstanding work. It helped bring the audience into the action and moved the scenes along.
The set design at Lifeline is always top notch and this set design was no exception. Melania Lancy used the space well for the varied scenes, while creating a pleasing period palate for the audience.
Anyone who is loves Jane Austen should see this pleasing show. Anyone who doesn’t know the work of Jane Austen, and may have a high brow perception of her writing, should come to Lifeline. Let yourself be taken away to the engaging world of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. It will bring a smile to your face and make you believe in love again.
“Pride and Prejudice” runs through 10 June 2012 at Lifeline Theatre. Call 773-761-4477 or visit www.lifelinetheatre.com