Review | Austen with a side of laughs: Plethos Productions puts a comedic spin on ‘Pride and Prejudice’

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. — In a refreshing departure from tradition, Plethos Productions has given a delightful twist to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” turning it from a Regency-era romance into a whimsical family comedy.

Miss Bingley, portrayed by Amber Gee, and Mr. Darcy, portrayed by David Patino, attend a ball during Plethos Productions’ adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” at Heirloom East Bay in Castro Valley on Sunday, Sept. 10. (Sonia Waraich – East Bay Echo)

Under the direction of Camille La’akea Wong, this adaptation masterfully balances the romantic entanglement between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy with a deeper exploration of the Bennet family’s dynamics and their interactions with high society. Playwright Kate Hamill skillfully condenses the story to its most essential scenes, infusing the dialogue with a modern comedic sensibility that feels entirely fresh.

David Patino and Annie Wang, portraying the socially awkward Mr. Darcy and the sharp-witted Elizabeth Bennet, navigate the comedic intricacies of their characters with skill. Their chemistry, tinged with a subtle romantic tension, is seamlessly woven into the broader tapestry of family and social life, offering a window into the larger social dynamics of wealth and class at play.

The supporting cast, with standout performances by Katie Francis as Mrs. Bennet, Benjamin Garcia as Mr. Bennett, Kristy Aquino as Jane Bennet, and Thomas Nguyen as Mr. Collins, injects new humor into Austen’s beloved characters. Nicholas Jaochico (portraying Mary Bennet and Mr. Bingley), Aero England (portraying Lydia Bennet and Miss de Bourgh), Amber Gee (portraying Miss Bingley and Lady Catherine), and Nancy Wong (portraying Charlotte and Mr. Wickham) flawlessly transition between their dual roles.

Mr. Bingley, portrayed by Nicholas Jaochico, and Jane Bennet, portrayed by Kristy Aquino, prepare for a dance. (Sonia Waraich – East Bay Echo)

The ensemble’s diversity alongside the genderbending casting enriches the play’s comedic tapestry, reflecting Plethos Productions’ dedication to inclusivity and accessibility, while breathing new life into this timeless tale.

Hamill’s script navigates the line between paying homage and creating something new, resulting in a production that’s both entertaining and faithful to the source material.

The direction also deserves applause for its thoughtful pacing, seamless transitions, playful use of lights, and incorporation of period-appropriate music, costumes and decor, which further enhance the production by immersing the audience in 19th century England.

The backdrop, a stage set in the center of a field at Heirloom East Bay, bathed in the gentle light of dusk, adds an enchanting touch to the production’s overall charm.

Regardless of whether you’re a die-hard Austen fan or a newcomer to her world, this comedic adaptation is an absolute must-see.

Performance information
Venue: Heirloom East Bay at 9990 Crow Canyon Road in Castro Valley
Date: 7 p.m. on Sept. 16 and Sept. 17
Tickets: $20 and available for purchase online.

Sonia Waraich can be reached at 510-952-7455.

Photo caption: Mrs. Bennet, portrayed by Katie Francis, tells her husband Mr. Bennet, played by Benjamin Garcia, and daughters Lizzy and Jane, played by Annie Wang and Kristy Aquino, about the new wealthy gentleman who has moved in nearby during Plethos Productions’ rendition of “Pride and Prejudice” at Heirloom East Bay in Castro Valley on Sunday, Sept. 10. (Sonia Waraich – East Bay Echo)

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