Pride and Prejudice

Previewed 20 June 2013, Opened 25 June 2013, Closed 20 July 2013 at the Open Air Theatre
Previewed 2 September 2016, Opened 7 September 2016, Closed 17 September 2016 at the Open Air Theatre

The return of Deborah Bruce's stage production of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to London, in an adaptation by Simon Reade.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." As the Bennet sisters haplessly search for love in Jane Austen's ultimate romantic comedy, it is Mr Darcy who unwittingly finds his match.

The 2016 cast features Felicity Montagu as 'Mrs Bennet' (please note Felicity Montagu will not perform on Saturday 17 September). Directed by Deborah Bruce with movement by Sian Williams, set designs by Max Jones, costumes by Tom Piper, lighting by Tina MacHugh, music by Lillian Henley and sound by Matt McKenzie. This production returns in a recast staging following an accalimed season here at the Open Air Theatre in 2013. Simon Reade's West End credits include the stage adaption of Michael Morpurgo's novel Private Peaceful at the Trafalgar Studios in 2006 and 2007 and the Haymarket Theatre in 2012.

The weather Every theatre performance is unique, but this is especially the case here at the Open Air Theatre where both the stage and auditorium seating are completely uncovered and open to the elements. It is therefore best to come prepared for all types of weather. It is particularly important to bring a jumper for the end of evening performances. Bad weather may mean that performances have to be stopped and be re-started but, on average, 94% of performances are completed each season. In the event that the performance is abandoned due to bad weather, no refunds are given, but you can exchange your tickets for a future performance. Performances are never cancelled prior to the start time. Please speak to a member of staff on the evening.

The 2013 Season cast featured Jennifer Kirby as 'Elizabeth Bennet', David Oakes as 'Mr Darcy' and Jane Asher as 'Lady Catherine de Bourgh' with Timothy Walker as 'Mr Bennet', Rebecca Lacey as 'Mrs Bennet', Yolanda Kettle as 'Jane Bennet', Leah Brotherhead as 'Mary Bennet' and Eleanor Thorn as 'Lydia Bennet'.

When this production was originally seen here at the Open Air Theatre in June 2013, Quentin Letts for The Daily Mail praised it as being "a lovely show," explaing that "Deborah Bruce's brisk direction keep the story motoring... This is a perfect Pride And Prejudice: skittish, comical, easy on the eye and moving, even though we all know how it ends." Fiona Mountford in The London Evening Standard commented that, "inevitably some of the texture of this immortal book is lost in translation but it's remarkably little in Simon Reade's fluid adaptation," concluding that "all in, a lot to be proud of." Sarah Hemming in The Financial Times highlighted how "Deborah Bruce's spry, witty production uses the revolving stage to create a bustling social world... Simon Reade's fluid version adroitly balances plot essentials and detailed scenes... and what does translate well to drama is Jane Auste's brilliant depiction of character... Deborah Bruce's staging is bright with observant little details." Michael Billington in The Guardian thought that "Simon Reade has done a thoughtful, intelligent job and the production looks good, yet what one misses is the persistent, ironic voice of Jane Austen herself... Even if any adaptation inevitably offers diluted Jane Austen, Deborah Bruce's production is well staged." Libby Purves in The Times said that "this bicentennial Simon Reade adaptation provides an unusually elegant and thoughtful frame for Deborah Bruce, the director, and her bravely decolletée outdoor cast. It clips along smartly from scene to scene without a moment's confusion, and shows a respect for Jane Austen's dialogue and thought." Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph complained that it was a "lazy and underpowered production. It is - dread word - a romp that somehow misses almost everything that makes Pride and Prejudice such a great, wonderfully enjoyable novel... Deborah Bruce's production certainly looks a picture... unfortunately, the acting is decidedly patchy... this most delightful of novels proves a dreary dramatic slog." Likewise Julie Carpenter in The Daily Express said: "I'm afraid it is unlikely to be universally acknowledged a success... with scenes feeling all too rushed there is no time to build up a rapport between the two leads. Most obviously the production fails to capture Jane Austen's wit and knowing irony."

"In the six years since he took over as artistic director of London's Open Air theatre, Timothy Sheader has seriously sharpened up its act. Several acclaimed adaptations of classic novels have expanded the theatre's repertoire well beyond hoary productions of Shakespeare or glitzy musicals. Simon Reade's sparkling new stage version of Pride and Prejudice is no exception. Max Jones's set offers a brilliantly simple evocation of the book's many grand houses, from Netherfield to Pemberley; and director Deborah Bruce expertly marshals the large cast through fast-paced changes of scene... It's Austen played very much as comedy, evading her darker tones, but retaining much of her humour - still dazzling after 200 years." The Observer

"Shouldn't it be a truth universally acknowledged that the past 20 years have given birth to too many adaptations of Pride and Prejudice? This is not to criticise Simon Reade's loyal stage version, but why is it accepted, even expected, that directors take bold risks with staging Shakespeare, but Austen adaptations rarely deviate from a loved but wearingly familiar empire-lined template? That aside, there is little to dislike in Deborah Bruce's brisk production, which may strain a little too hard for laughs in the first half, but settles into a more reflective mood as the evening light fades." The Sunday Times

Pride and Prejudice in London at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park with previewed from 2 September 2016, opened on 7 September 2016 and closed on 17 September 2016.