Tuesday 18 October 2022

2 PROUD 2 PREJUDICED: An Austen-tatious Cabaret - Cabaret Review

 WHAT: 2 Proud 2 Prejudiced: An Austen-tatious Cabaret

WHEN: 10 - 23 October 2022

WHERE: The Butterfly Club (Upstairs)/Digital Fringe

CREATED BY: Picked Last For Sport

PERFORMED BY: Sarah Edgar, Freya Long, Ryan Smith, Sean Sully, and Melissa Viola (with a special guest appearance by Colin Firth).

Sean Sully, Freya Long, Ryan Smith, Sarah Edgar, and Melissa Viola - photo by Emma Thomas

I once got in trouble with my year 9 English teacher for comparing the novels of Jane Austen to the Mills & Boon book empire. I never found out whether she was upset that I considered Austen's writing to not be literature or if she thought I was calling Mills & Boon books literature. I truly loved Mills & Boon books at the time, so it was not meant to be an insult. I am older and wiser now, but I still stand by my comment.

I have read Austen's entire collection and I agree with the Universe. Pride and Prejudice is the best and yes, I identified with Lizzie just like I identified with Jo in Little Women. The reason I mention the Louisa May Alcott story is because the way Picked Last For Sport have presented this spirited and abridged retelling of Pride and Prejudice - 2 Proud 2 Prejudiced - could easily sit as Amy's dramatic contributions to long evenings at home in counterpoint to Jo's dastardly tales. Sisters, love, betrayal, coming of age - both are writ from a similar cloth.

I really love what Picked Last for Sport do. They have this amazing cabaret formula which looks like they just grabbed a bunch of props from the shed and are putting on an improvisation in front of you. This friendly, casual style is belied by the intense theatrecraft and musicianship of the team.

2 Proud 2 Prejudiced: An Austen-tatious Cabaret is a pretty foolproof subject for a Melbourne Fringe Festival cabaret but it is funny, witty, and pacey and what more can you ask in Fringe season? The show begins with Sarah Edgar coming forward demurely, in period costume to sing a gentle ode to the great novelist. Then the other four barge in and the frivolity of the night begins with a lively rendition of 'The Bennett Sisters' to introduce the characters. Each sister has a verse telling us a bit about her personality - all except Kitty (Ryan Smith), who has no personality. The men in drag stamp the pantomime tone over the rest of the proceedings.

2 Proud 2 Prejudiced is a hat show. The cast warn that everyone plays multiple characters, and it will be a challenge to keep up. It really does help if you already know the story, especially because the best gems of the night are the commentary which is what we all thought as we read the book. There is delicious fun in hearing it said out loud though. So many delicious characters to make fun of and so many social mores we would never dream of these days (like marrying your cousin).

All of the music and lyrics are original creations and delivered with an amused, naughty satire that keeps the audience laughing from beginning to end. It is an exhausting hour but in all of the good ways!

Everyone is great in the show, and embody their characters beautifully (even Colin Firth as Mr Darcy). I want to give a special shout out to Sean Sully's interpretation of the dour Mary, and Edgar's Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The song 'Status' is a true glory. I also really enjoyed Freya Long's base guitar as accompaniment to Sully on the piano it gave a humorous gravitas to moments of ridiculous tension in the story. 

I also applaud the flip chart. It deserves a nomination as the best prop in Fringe 2022.

Sadly, it is true the live season for 2 Proud 2 Prejudiced: An Austen-tatious Cabaret has ended. Great news though! It is still available to view through Digital Fringe. Snap up your tickets and sit back in comfort with your favourite beverage. Get comfortable for an hour of non-stop laughter and a wonderful version of your favourite romantic comedy!

4.5 Stars

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