Amongst the holiday show splendors, Pioneer Theatre Company’s “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” stands out. Jane Austen-based and quick-witted, the show will melt any curmudgeon as two unorthodox leads, awkward book-lovers, find a way to connect. Playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon breathe life into Mary Bennet, the wet blanket from “Pride and Prejudice.” She develops a sassy and intelligent personality that catches the eye of a new character, Arthur de Bourgh (who “Pride and Prejudice” readers will connect with the meddling Lady de Bourgh). Equally demure, the couple must navigate Victorian entailments—and each other’s bashfulness—before acknowledging their attraction.
As Julie Kramer notes below, however, this play is not only about romance—it’s about family, friends and learning how to enjoy the holiday season.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged–that our families drive us crazy at the holidays.
Okay, it’s not Jane Austen: but she did have family as much as marriage in mind in her most well-known book, Pride and Prejudice.
Writers Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon take the characters we know and love from the book (and the movies, the miniseries, the adaptations), and by introducing a new ‘single man in possession of good fortune,’ suggest that there’s more to them than we knew.
If you don’t know the Bennets, Darcys, Bingleys, Wickhams and DeBourghs, not to worry. This is a new story, of a middle sister who has always been overlooked, who is finally given space on the stage and in her family to express her truest self and be loved for it. Of a group of people facing new challenges in their lives and helping each other to meet them. Of two people making themselves vulnerable, and letting themselves be seen, in order to make a life together. That they get to do this on a grand estate, wearing lovely dresses and speaking in posh accents, does not make it any less of a story most of us can recognize.
I wish for all of you as you gather with family and friends this holiday season, that you are thankful for what drives you most crazy about the ones you love, and make space for the possibility that there may be much about them you have yet to learn. I remain hopeful that if, like Arthur and Mary, we meet each other with love and curiosity it can open up the world.”
—Director Julie Kramer
“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” runs Nov. 30-Dec. 15, 2018. Tickets are available through at pioneertheatre.org or by calling 801-581-6961.