Review: Extravagant and adorable, Persephone Theatre’s Christmas play delights

Photo Credit: Sam Fairweather, Emily Dallas, Amanda Trapp and Ali DeRegt perform in Persephone Theatre’s ‘Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley’ running until Dec. 21, 2023. (Olivia Swerhone-Wick/Persephone Theatre)

Persephone Theatre’s Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley crashes into Christmas with the perfect assault of humour, charm, wit, and extravagance.

The story is a modern sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. With Elizabeth (Amanda Trapp) and Jane (Ali Deregt) happily married, Mary (Emily Dallas) is the focus of this story as the precocious and titular ‘Miss Bennet.’

Elizabeth Darcy and Mr. Darcy (Kevin Moxley) host the family for the Christmas holidays at Pemberley where Mary stands out as the lone Bennet sister to be unmatched in marriage. Her love is of books and music, and she scarcely seems interested in being courted until the arrival of Arthur de Bourgh (Mitchell Larsen), an awkward but charming lord with interests that coincide with Mary’s. The romance proceeds in proper Austenian fashion with wit and letters and a fair share of misunderstandings. The result is both heartwarming and humourous in Wednesday night’s preview performance.

The brilliance of Gunderson and Melcon’s script is that it plays on beloved characters and events from the classic novel without requiring intimate knowledge of it. While there are some wonderful references for those who have read Pride and Prejudice, the story does not assume prior knowledge and is entertaining on its own. Regardless of familiarity, they manage to capture Austen’s style of wit and banter with ease and grace and develop characters that feel at once absurd and entirely relatable.

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