Pride and Prejudice

Date 30th January 2024
Society Cheadle Hulme School
Venue Cheadle Hulme School
Type of Production Play
Director Clare Harms and David Fairweather
Written By Janet Munsil

Report

Author: Steph Niland

What a fabulous venue and wonderful facilities are down at Cheadle Hulme School. Indeed, the school frontage could have come straight out of a piece of classic literature.

Directors, Clare Harms and David Fairweather, had the task of shaping 2 sets of casts for this production, approximately 40 students on stage and several others involved in scene changes and as musicians and when one thinks about the logistics of that, it is a feat in itself to get it all staged at all, never mind to such a great standard. The direction was spot on, the action moved along efficiently, and the space was utilised effectively. Characterisation was well considered, and actors seemed secure in their portrayals. Well done!

The romantic leads, Lizzie Bennet played assuredly by Evie Kearney and Fitzwilliam Darcy, suitably aloof, by Ben Lowe obviously understood the text and the cat and mouse, push and pull style relationship between the two characters. There were moments of genuine tenderness and others of palpable tension. Congratulations.

Mrs Bennet and Mr Bennet played by Roxy Kingsley and Lucas Fernandez, respectively, also had good chemistry. Mr Bennet’s wise but ‘put upon’ delivery was well drawn, and Mrs Bennet was rightfully frantic. Although, it was a struggle to decipher some of the dialogue through the excited manner in which it was said, this calmed and Roxy’s character remained consistent, which is commendable given the amount of energy she put in.

 The brother and sister duo of Caroline and Charles Bingley given by Amy Heuting and Lucien Fitzgerald were strong portrayals. Amy managed to play the snobby “mean girl” with the correct air for the era and Lucien was incredibly endearing as Charles, a natural benevolent charm that matched Sophia Gahagan’s Jane Bennet, his love interest. They were believable and likeable – exactly as they should be played.

Another naturalistic and solid performance came from Fleur Cleary as Charlotte Lucas, Lizzie’s best friend and confidante. The stoic, yet kind and engaging character was safe in her hands.

A few other actors stood out in some fun and well-rounded characterisations. The formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh played with great strength by Charlotte Holmes was commendably supercilious and superior in her scenes and emitted a gravitas and maturity that belied Charlotte’s years. Mrs Reynolds, a small role, nevertheless Joss Gavaghan impressed in her confident delivery and appealing presence. In her few lines, she managed to make her mark and make us laugh.

Sam Greenhalgh as George Wickham also managed to make an immediate impression. Charming but underhand, this was an actor with a secure grasp on his character and his performance was top notch.

The smarmy and conniving Mr Collins was played brilliantly by Oscar Boanas. Another actor who perceived the correct and intelligent telling of this character. He managed to create a manipulative buffoon that was both likable and despicable at the same time. Well done.

The choice of music had a touch of Bridgerton about it and particularly enjoyable were the live musicians which complemented the sections they were involved in beautifully.

The set design was clever and fitting, the white architectural static set, and the projections very agreeable and well- chosen and lighting and tech was well balanced with the overall effects. The set and tech complemented the entire atmosphere that was evidently wanted to be produced with the whole play.

It is a shame to have only seen one ‘team’, but if Team Pride was as enthusiastic and focussed as Team Prejudice, I am sure the above can be said for them too.