Georgina & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley

Last Play in the Sequel to Pride and Prejudice.

Georgiana & Kitty, the last play of the trilogy Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, opened at Taproot Theatre last night. Previously Taproot produced Miss Bennett in 2018 and last year The Wickhams. Although fictionalized, The Wickhams honored Jane Austen by delivering not only wit and humor but also morality and character development. Georgiana & Kitty was disappointing in that it lacked the underlying seriousness of a Jane Austen novel.

The trilogy Christmas at Pemberley uses the same technique as Alan Ayckborn’s The Norman Conquest. Three plays depict the same characters at the same house party, but each individual play takes place in a different room, involving one set of characters and resolving marital situations.

In the first play of the trilogy, Miss Mary Bennett-the awkward, plain, pretentiously “accomplished” middle sister gets engaged to an equally awkward intellectual cousin of Darcy’s. In The Wickhams, Lydia grows up, breaks out of her denial and liberates herself from Wickham.

In Georgiana & Kitty, who have become best friends, Kitty easily finds true love, while Georgiana goes through a romance with Austenesque complications similar to Anne Elliott in Persuasion. In the end, all is well, with the last of the Bennett/Darcy women are married off. With a nod to modern feminisim, Kitty and Georgiana pursue professions.

The weakness of this production was both the play itself and the directing. Unlike The Wickhams, there was no real character development. At the end of Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett have both gone through personality shellacking’s, motivating them to change for the better.

Darcy having been humbled by Elizabeth’s refusal to marry him becomes more tolerant and less arrogant. Elizabeth’s pride takes a beating when she realizes that she has totally misjudged Darcy and has been taken in my Wickham. At the end of Pride and Prejudice, Lydia has not made such a journey, after her near shotgun marriage to Wickam, she remains as clueless as ever. The strength of the second play of the trilogy, The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley is that Lydia changes, breaks out of denial about Wickam, grows up and takes responsibility for herself.

Unfortunately, in choosing two very minor characters, Kitty and Georgiana, who did not have particularly striking character flaws in the novel, the playwrights really had nowhere to go. The lack of character development made the plot a bit thin and rendered the play a bit of fluff.

The second major flaw was that the actors with few exceptions played everything for over-the top laughs, with boisterous physicality and a lot of distracting and unnecessary gesticulating. Like Jane Austen’s novels, Georgiana & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley was a language play, the lines were written with Austenesque subtle irony meant to be delivered sardonically. Two of the male actors, Brian Pucheu as Darcy and especially William Eames as Henry Grey managed to deliver their lines not in a frenetic mode but dryly.

Another big flaw was that the actors just tried to imitate the phonetic sounds of a British accent instead of concentrating on the vocal placement to get British resonance. Smiling like Americans affected the resonance and to compensate, most of the women spoke above their optimal pitch, which was grating.

I was deeply disappointed because last year’s production was the hit of the holiday season. Like last year, there was also a pre-show Victoria quartet singing Christmas songs in the lobby, where I drank some warm non-alcoholic cider, (alcoholic cider is also available as well as mulled wine and hot chocolate)

However, many people in the audience found it uproariously funny and laughed at the right spots, and as I was leaving I noticed there was a standing ovation, but my companions for the evening did not.

Georgiana & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley. 204 N. 85th St. Seattle, 98103 (North Seattle, Corner of 85th and Greenwood) Tues-Sat 7:30 pm. Sat matinée 2pm. Thru Dec. 30. Street Parking.

Tickets : https://taproottheatre.org/shows/2023/georgiana-kitty-christmas-at-pemberley/

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