By Contributing writer Abigail Field
The UMass Dartmouth theater company, TCo, put on another showstopper over the past weekend in the form of Pride and Prejudice. The show, this time set in the 1920s, surprised the audience with its humor and wit, and, in many cases, had people laughing hysterically, which is not something often associated with Jane Austen pieces. This was due to both the particular adaptation of the play as well as the impeccable delivery of the actors.
Jackie Audet was captivating as the lead of Lizzie Bennet. Merritt Barthe was the perfect Mr. Darcy that I, for one, never knew the world so desperately needed. Paige Zora and Aiden Goddu were hilarious as the Bennet parents, helped by the equally as hilarious fact that Goddu continuously quick changed in order to play Charlotte Lucas. Mary Wordell masterfully fulfilled her role as Mary Bennet, the Bennet family ghost, if ghosts could be alive and filled with cynicism. Katherine Ferri and Tristan Richter were the way-too-in-love couple of Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley that utterly delighted everyone in attendance.
The play was easily visually understood as being in the 1920s, due in major part to the fringed, sequined, and somewhat anachronistic “flapper” dresses. While not historically accurate, they did serve the purpose of making it very clear to the viewer when it was set, since the general public who are less historical-dress savvy, associate fringe and beads with the 1920s. It was also interesting that not all female characters donned these gowns. It was the Bennet sisters and Bingley’s sister who wore them, with the other female characters wearing far less sparkly dresses that sat upon the actor and actresses’ natural waists. To me, this was an excellent device. The women who have the most to lose socially and who are trying the hardest to woo men are the same women who wear the fringed, sparkly gowns. Whether this was intentional, I know not. But the effect was certainly felt.
“I really enjoyed the play and its subtle humor,” said Sean Mahoney, an audience member. “I thought it was great all around. I didn’t expect to enjoy Pride and Prejudice so much!”
Mother and daughter duo, Lisa and Erin Boc were also happy to have attended. “I thought this show was delightful!” Lisa Boc remarked, “I completely enjoyed this version!”
Erin Boc agreed, and noted her favorite part. “I like the guy who played both the dad and Charlotte. I enjoyed how he had to quick change into a dress!”
It was evident that the cast also had a great time with the show, between their on-stage energy and their bright smiles during bows. One could tell how much the show meant to those involved. “I’m so privileged to be able to be a part of this,” said Mary Wordell, who played Mary Bennet. “Theatre saved my life, and I love everybody here.”
Jackie Audet (Illustration, 2020), who played Lizzie Bennet, quickly reminds one of why she was so perfect for her Lizzie role off stage with her humor, generally refreshing “I take no s**t” attitude, and affection for the people around her. “I had a good time,” she said. “We became really close, like a family. All those inside jokes. It be like that.” Indeed, for anyone who has ever done theater, one knows that it really do be like that.
Merritt Barthe (Masters in Professional Writing and Communication, 2020), who played the much beloved (I’m sure to the character’s chagrin) Mr. Darcy, was in their first lead role. “It was really a challenge [being in my first lead role], but also really exciting for me. We hardly talked at all for a month as a cast, but we came together at the end. I’m very proud of everyone and am super excited to see what they do in the following years, as well as being super excited for next semester!” Additionally, it should be noted that the writer took a while to ask Barthe any questions because she was too distracted by their absolute mastery of the strong brows and waistcoat look they were rocking.
The show was clearly enjoyable for the directors as well. “It was exciting to direct my first play!” CJ Belmore (History, 2022) said. “I’m extremely proud of the actors and crew and tech team who all put in so many hours. They made this play amazing.”