Delightful and charming! Those are just two of the adjectives I would use to describe the current Manitoba Theatre Production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly. I am a huge Jane Austen fan but that isn’t the only reason I enjoyed the play. My husband wanted to know why I had liked it so much. Here are ten reasons.
1) Mary Bennet, the heroine of the play is admired by her suitor not for her looks or money but…… for her brains. Arthur de Bourgh is enchanted with Mary’s ability to engage in interesting conversations about all manner of things whether it be history, science, geography, literature or the meaning of words.
2) I liked the idea of a minor character in a famous book being plucked from its pages and put centre stage so we can get to know her in a whole new way. Mary Bennet has a very secondary role in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice.
3) They played handbells. I was at the Canadian Mennonite University Christmas concert last Saturday and one of the things I enjoyed most was the talented handbell choir directed by Verna Wiebe. So it was lovely to see the handbells being played on the Manitoba Theatre stage during a carol singing scene.
4) There is a real bond between the sisters in the play. Even though they sometimes make each other angry and frustrated they stick together as siblings no matter what life brings their way.
5) The set is beautiful and has many small details that caught my eye as the play proceeded. The windows outside were often the scene of a gentle snowfall.
6) I learned that even though a Christmas tree is an important prop in the story of Christmas at Pemberly it was considered something unique during the time period in which the play is set. Christmas trees were not popular in England till some fifty years after Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice.
7) There is real chemistry between Mary and Arthur the couple at the heart of the play’s romance. Arthur proposes to Mary by giving her a map of the world as a symbol of the adventures he plans for them to have together. How romantic is that?
8) I thought the dresses the different Bennet sisters wore really suited their personalities and I loved them.
9) The play has some genuinely funny scenes and dialogue that had me laughing out loud.
10) One question in the script that got me thinking was- “Can you live large in your mind alone?”
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly runs till December 21, so you still have time to see it.