Pride @ Prejudice: A Romantic Deconstruction
by Daniel Elihu Kramer
Capital Repertory Theatre
If ever you doubted Shaw’s quip that we Americans are separated from the English by a common language, Capital Rep’s romantic deconstruction of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice will convince you. As usual in these combats, the English come out on top. They speak paragraphs; we blurt out half-sentences. They have a kind of linguistic patience equipping them to wait forever for the end of most any sentence. To us, when we read the novel it seems like we spend most of our time waiting. This also applies to the substance of the book. Situations are deftly elongated, and like all great works of art, brought close to calamity. Illustrating the beautiful balance in this show, near the end, Elizabeth Bennet asks “Now?” three times to which her beau Mr. Darcy, answers” not yet,” “not yet”, then finally, “Now!” Plot mirrors speech. Speech mirrors plot.
Then there is the deconstructive stuff. This is when the American comes in. The narrative of the story is halted mid-stream while a character comes down to the lip of the stage and asks a kind of dumb question you would expect from a seventh grader with Cliff Notes in hand. These befuddlements are zinged out by the same actors who play the narrative. Back and forth we go, and somehow playwright Daniel Elihu Kramer keeps it all in balance. At the top of the play I expected a tired, traditional send-up, but it was much more than that. The central narrative was movingly played by Aubrey Saverino as Elizabeth and Nick Dillenburg as Mr. Darcy. The verbal highjacks intensified the lyricism of their acting. Mr. Dillenburg in particular played the Onegin-like character with smoldering indifference. He had excellent stillness. Ms. Saverino was strong, but she had sweetness. I believed them, and their union at the end was a large and moving thing. Because of the wordplay? Very possibly. The second act became more and more real, and less and less snarky. This was good. The virtuosity of Michele Tauber, Colin Ryan, and Gisella Chipe gave us many roles, half-roles, fast and slow moving jokes, and words and more words . This all could have been brittle, but turned out to be real.