Too late to cram the whole novel? Can’t stand the movie? Need something more straightforward than Sparknotes? One Man Pride and Prejudice sums up hundreds of Jane Austen’s pages into a concise (and much more memorable) 60 minutes.
Pride and Prejudice chronicles the lives of the daughters of the Bennet Family as they try to find appropriate suitors before “it’s too late.” Charlie Ross displays his versatility by hopping between more than a dozen caricatures of major characters like the judgemental Elizabeth Bennet, the snobbish Fitzwilliam Darcy, and the sleazy George Wickham. Due to the sheer volume of characters and quick pace, those who scarcely remember the novel may confuse some of them, especially if they have a similar pitch or poise.
Ross fluidly improvises; whether it is a six-year-old’s yawn, pop culture references, or even a phone ringing, he easily follows it up with a self-aware remark that gets the audience giggling. In the structured portions, he elicits laughs from understatements and his unexpected song and dance moves, and he garners sympathy for the characters by sobering them up during dramatic moments.
With the exception of a few sound cues, the lack of technical aspects and props means that Ross is free to command the stage how he sees fit. However, using a church as a stage meant the echo from Ross or the audience was distracting at times. Additionally, it was a struggle to hear him from five pews back as he did not use a microphone.
A humorous, breakneck pace highlight reel, One Man Pride and Prejudice accurately captures the feeling of speedreading the original novel the night before an exam. A mix of irreverence and endearment, Ross works through the minimal tech to ultimately deliver a rich theatrical experience.