I was so excited when Rebecca Cockcroft informed us that she had adapted Pride and Prejudice for a audio production. Although a lover of all things Austen, P&P was always a firm favourite.
My video boxset of the 1994 BBC adaptation with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle was so overwatched it became blurry and I had to replace it with the DVD set! It was, and still is, my go-to when I’m feeling poorly and chill on the sofa.
We started by having a read through on Zoom and took it in turns to read all parts, which helped Rebecca fine tune the adaptation after hearing it read. She then set audition pieces and we all had to send in audio files - I auditioned for Mrs Bennet and Caroline Bingley and was beside myself when she offered me Mrs B!
Mrs. Bennet is described as "a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper . She openly favours her eldest and youngest daughters, Jane for her beauty and Lydia for her high spirits. She is a foolish, emotional and irrational woman obsessed with marrying off each of her daughters. Austen uses her continually to highlight the necessity of marriage for young women. She schemes endless scenarios to endear her daughters to men of means, however, her behaviour does more harm to her daughters’ chances at finding good husbands than good! But in her defence, she is the sole and necessary pragmatist in a house full of idle dreamers!
Actresses known for playing Mrs Bennet are: Alison Steadman in the aforementioned 1994 BBC Adaption, Brenda Blethyn in the 2005 film with Keira Knightley playing Lizzie and Mary Boland in the 1940 MGM Film – and yes, I have watched some of that one too!
As it was an audio production I felt the character couldn’t be subtle, so opted for the Alison Steadman approach, which is quite clown like, luckily this was also how Rebecca envisioned the character. I actually looked forward to sitting in my wardrobe with the clothes horse in front of me covered in duvets to achieve the soundproofing!
Those of us involved have had the opportunity of listening to episodes one and two before general release. Rebecca has done an amazing job with not only penning the adaptation, but the editing is exemplary and the additional sound effects are perfect. You would never know it was recorded on cast member’s phones! Richard walked in whilst I was listening and thought it was a professional podcast from the Beeb – it really is that good so please take a listen.
Pride and Prejudice will be available to listen for free soon!