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Archive - Friday, 22 April 2005
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Pride and Prejudice, Connaught Theatre, Worthing
The task of condensing this epic novel into a two-hour play is not one which should be taken lightly but it is the dubious casting of John Leslie which overshadows an otherwise jovial adaptation of Jane Austens tale, directed by Sue Pomeroy.
The decision to cast the former television presenter as the dastardly and devious Mr Wickham may have seemed wise but Leslies broad Scottish tones are incongruous and his acting awkward and wooden.
Its no surprise to discover this is his first straight acting role, as he puts in a performance more akin to the Blue Peter pantomime. On this showing, it may well be his last.
However, there are notable performances aplenty from the rest of the cast. Chloe Newsome plays an admirable Elizabeth, with Mark Wynter and Jennifer Wilson excelling as her parents, Mr and Mrs Bennet.
It is Tom Mallaburns versatile all-round performance which should be best remembered.
He captures the geniality of Charles Bingley superbly, while also displaying the sheer absurdness of Reverend Collins character, with his continually overstated bowing, to the delight of the audience.
As if that isnt enough, he also provides musical accompaniment on the piano.
Despite the dancing being weak and tiresome, the show was well constructed and flowed from start to finish.
Unfortunately that fact may be lost in Leslies abject performance.