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THEATER REVIEW: OnStage Playhouse's “Pride And Prejudice" hits the mark

Elizabeth Bennet (Kym Pappas), second of the five unmarried Bennet girls, is nowhere near as hot to tie that conjugal knot as elder sister Jane (Rebecca Noland) or her two silly youngest sibs Kitty (Lena M. Jones) and Lydia (Rhiannon M. Jones).

But Mom Bennet (Susan Stratton) continues to bustle around in search of suitable mates for her brood while the badly outnumbered Mr. Bennet (O.P. Hadlock) just tries to hold his own in that estrogen-dominated environment.

Jane has her eye on Mr. Bingley (Bill Grazier), who is both handsome (check!) and meets her mother’s financial requirements (check!).

Bingley’s taciturn friend Mr. Darcy (Greg McAfee) is sullen, acerbic and well, a bit of a spoilsport. But he is rich (check!) and not bad looking (check!).

But Elizabeth, nearly as sharp of tongue as Darcy, takes an instant dislike to him, preferring his more charming friend Mr. Wickham (Nick Young). She especially likes it when Mr. Wickham badmouths Darcy.

Sandra Lynn Kraus directs Jon Jory’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel “Pride And Prejudice,” which plays through Oct. 8 at OnStage Playhouse.

“Pride And Prejudice” shows the social restrictions of life among the propertied class in Regency England – formality down to the use of titles for everyone including spouses, even in casual conversation; dancing performed in a prescribed manner, not free-form; bowing and curtsying on meeting and parting.

Despite Elizabeth’s confidence in her ability to judge character, she will of course eventually have to give up her prejudice when she learns that Wickham is nothing more than a charming scoundrel and accept that Darcy’s pride, while annoying, may in fact be well earned.

Kraus and OnStage juggle this multi-character play and their 15 actors with considerable grace and intelligence, given the theater’s space limitations. Dancing (which is how young ladies and young gentlemen met; in those days, at “balls” at one or another’s estate) is handled in pantomime.

The audience is brought up to date on the plot by letters read by their writers, who appear onstage.

Pappas is a fine and convincing Elizabeth, and makes a fine foil for McAfee’s brooding Darcy.

Stratton is a hoot as the professional busybody who makes it her business to marry off those daughters well. Even more of a kick is one of my favorite characters, the grasping and – shall I say icky? – vicar Collins (James E. Steinberg), important here because he stands to inherit the Bennet property, since there are no male Bennet heirs.

OnStage has done a fine job of adapting this large-canvas story to their space limitations.

The details

“Pride and Prejudice” plays through Oct. 8 at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Ave., Chula Vista.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.

For tickets call (619) 422-7787 or visit HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.