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Review: Jane Austen’s classic story sparkles on stage at Norwich Theatre Royal

PUBLISHED: 12:02 28 September 2016 | UPDATED: 17:20 28 September 2016

Pride and Prejudice by Regent's Park Theatre. The Bennet Family. Photo: Johan Persson

Pride and Prejudice by Regent's Park Theatre. The Bennet Family. Photo: Johan Persson

Johan Persson

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice is one of the best-loved novels of all time. So it’s another truth universally acknowledged that anyone who adapts the book for stage has a lot of responsibility resting on their shoulders.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Regent Park Theatre. Photo shows Hollie Edwin, Leigh Quinn, Anna Crichlow and Mari Izzard as Jane, Mary, Kitty and Lydia Bennet with Felicity Montagu as Mre Bennet. Photo by: Johan Persson PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Regent Park Theatre. Photo shows Hollie Edwin, Leigh Quinn, Anna Crichlow and Mari Izzard as Jane, Mary, Kitty and Lydia Bennet with Felicity Montagu as Mre Bennet. Photo by: Johan Persson

But fans can be assured that in Regent’s Park Theatre’s production, which has opened at Norwich Theatre Royal, Austen’s wit and wisdom are in very safe hands.

Directed by Deborah Bruce and adapted by Simon Reade, the story of the Bennet sisters and their pursuit of love is the perfect blend of rom and com.

Everything about this production sparkles. Tafline Steen is a suitably feisty Elizabeth and Benjamin Dilloway dashing as Mr Darcy. It’s a joy to watch as the duo battle with their hearts and heads and the dynamic of their relationship shifts.

Felicity Montagu (best known as Alan Partridge’s long-suffering PA Lynn Benfield) as Mrs Bennet, and Olivier winner Matthew Kelly as Mr Bennet make another great match. Their comic timing is impeccable.

And Dona Croll is a proper scene stealer as one of literature’s greatest snobs, Lady Catherine De Bourgh.

Designer Max Jones’s set is a star in itself, with the action revolving from Mr Darcy’s Pemberley estate to Netherfield and the Bennet family home.

I must admit that it was the charms of Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy (the Poldark of the ’90s) that I initially fell for – but I left the theatre smitten with Pride and Prejudice all over again.

• Pride and Prejudice is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday. Box office: 01603 63000 / www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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