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Reduxion's take on 'Pride & Prejudice' masks its shortcomings with great comedic leads

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Based on the beloved Jane Austen novel, "Pride & Prejudice" tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet, an intelligent and independent woman who doesn't play along with the typical rules of 19th-century English society, where status and wealth are paramount. If someone isn't born into money, the goal is to marry into it. Not overly concerned with these things, she finds love in the most unlikely of places "? the handsome, brooding and wealthy Mr. Darcy, a man she would ordinarily despise.

Reduxion Theatre's production of "Pride & Prejudice," written and directed by Erin Woods, is an amusing, but inconsistent work that plays like a TV sitcom set in 1813 England. While the piece is meant to be funny, many of the actors constantly go for the laugh with broad performances that are more like cartoon caricatures than human characters.

OVERBEARING TURN
No one is guiltier of this than Rebecca McCauley in her highly entertaining, but altogether overbearing turn as Mrs. Bennet, mother to Elizabeth and her sisters. She doesn't just steal scenes; she holds them hostage.

In stark contrast, the leads ground the play in solid and much more subtle performances. As Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Jennifer Koch Wells and Tyler Woods do a great job manifesting all the awkward, but undeniable chemistry between the characters, while tapping into the inherent comedy of their interactions without having to go over the top.

Wells also shines in another pairing with Cristela Carrizales in a sincere and endearing turn as Elizabeth's best friend, Charlotte. The actresses playing the remaining Bennet sisters all do good work in their respective roles.

With 16 people, "Pride & Prejudice" boasts a large cast, but with 28 roles to fill, much of the cast plays at least two characters "? sometimes without a significant change in costume and makeup "? which creates potential confusion for audience members.

Reduxion's production isn't bad per se, but it doesn't live up to the ambition and promise of its previous show, "Romeo & Juliet." There are certainly some performances worth seeing and the comedy is good enough to overlook some of the shortcomings, but not enough to deem it a success.

"?Eric Webb

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