Austen prequel coming to Craig’s

September 12, 2022 BY

Rehearsing Regency: The cast in action at Little Bendigo Primary School. Photo: SUPPLIED

JANE Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has captured the imagination of readers for hundreds of years, but there’s more to the story.

Later this month, Ballarat National Theatre will perform the prequel, Mr Bennet’s Bride, written by playwright and BNT member Emma Wood.

The play, both dramatic and comic, looks at the unlikely pair of Mr and Mrs Bennet, and how they non-traditionally came to be together.

Spoken word poet Megan J. Riedl is directing the show, which has a cast of 10, and will be staged in the Reading Room of Craig’s Royal Hotel, furnished in 19th century style.

“Being in such an intimate space, the audience is only going to be a metre or two away from the performers, so it really breaks down the audience-actor barrier,” she said.

“We’re all in the Reading Room together and it’s hyper naturalistic. It’s like being invited into the loungerooms of the Bennets, who are very proper, and the Gardiners, who are very warm, loving, outgoing, and full of frivolity.

“The play is hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny. I still laugh every single time the actors rehearse, but there’s also a really lovely dramatic, father-son heart-to-heart in there which is so beautifully performed and heart-felt.”

BNT president Liana Skewes said they’ve sold out multiple shows already and appreciate the enthusiasm of Ballarat’s many Austen fans.

“We’re investigating doing an online stream for a single performance as well, which is something we’ve never done before,” she said.

“We also have the full licencing to do official merchandise, so if people want to support us further, or are excited about the show, they can buy the merch.”

Playwright Emma Wood may be familiar to BNT audiences as she was a cast member of the company’s successful Pride and Prejudice podcast.

Mr Bennet’s Bride will run from Friday, 23 to Thursday, 29 September. Visit hermaj.com/events/bnt for tickets.