Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey a.d. Bonnie J. Monte has adapted and staged a sumptuous new version of Jane Austen’s sprawling turn-of-the-19th-century tome “Pride and Prejudice.” At three hours-plus, the production captures the spirit, romantic fervor and crisp period humor of the novel as the narrative follows the endeavors of the five Bennet sisters, who search for proper husbands with quiet desperation and fluttery ardor.
Poised, witty and stubborn, pivotal character Elizabeth Bennet is brought to life by Victoria Mack. Her gracious performance boasts porcelain charm and feisty determination. The elusive and impertinent Darcy is played by Marcus Dean Fuller with so much haughty grandeur that it’s almost impossible to accept his transformation into a civil suitor. But he accomplishes just that, with considerable romantic finesse.
Especially notable is Elizabeth Shepherd as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, the haughty matron aunt. Shepherd takes centerstage in a scene-stealing moment and nearly dwarfs all those around her. It may be old-fashioned grandstanding, but the style is steeped in tradition and works quite nicely.
Michael Stewart Allen plays the pompous, narrow-minded clergyman, Mr. Collins, with a properly insufferable yet amusingly silly air. All dither and prone to fainting spells is Monique Fowler’s fluttery Mrs. Bennet, while Edmond Genest provides the right blend of calm and order as the mild-mannered family patriarch.
Pertly appealing Nisi Sturgis plays a guarded Jane, while Saluda Camp brings quiet dignity to bookish Mary.
There’s a ballroom sequence accented by silvery chandeliers and candelabras that’s exquisitely cinematic. Michael Schweikardt has designed a serviceable beige-tinted set that’s enhanced by costumer Kim Gill’s handsome parade of chemise gowns, period habits, pantaloons and Spencer jackets.