Any attempt at outdoor arts events is a perilous venture in capricious Irish weather. But when the sun shines, it is a triumph of hope over experience and a glum muddy-field event becomes a glorious al freco spectacular. So with an eye on the sky, I made my first visit to the gardens of Curraghmore House for Chapterhouse Theatre Company's touring production of Pride and Prejudice. The combination of fair weather and an opportunity for a first glimpse at one of hidden Ireland's grandest houses was a compelling enough draw . Add in all the fun of fine spirited performances from the eight strong cast of Chapterhouse Theatre Company, whose theatrical presentation of Jane Austen's classic resonated in such perfect harmony with the grand setting that we could well imagine that we were sitting on the lawn at Mr Darcy's Pemberley.
There were a couple of aspects of the performance that impressed me particularly. I hadn't expected to be able to hear the dialogue so clearly in the open air setting. The voice projection and diction of the entire cast was impeccable. As you'd expect, some of the nuances of the more insipid of Austen's genteel characters were lost but the pantomime quality of the buffoons and baddies had the audience of all ages chuckling on the lawn and engaged over the two hour duration.
The effectiveness of a solo flute to add a pastoral touch with music interludes was simple and delightful and much preferable to any backing track, however sophisticated. The rendition of The Ash Grove in a drawing room scene elicited a genuine ripple of applause.
And if all that confluence of elegance and harmony in architecture, horticulture and prose wasn't enough to ensure a memorable afternoon, there was cake too. We enjoyed the best Victoria sponge in the newly opened Curraghmore House Tearooms in the courtyard. Have a listen to audience memberand local resident Alice O Brien's reaction in the audio clip
|Jane at the Curraghmore Tearooms|
|Best dressed lady: Jane Desmond in her beautiful empire line gown on steps of Curraghmore House|
CAST AND CREDITS
FERGUS REES – Mr Darcy, Mr Bennet
JOSEPH GALE – Mr Bingly, Mr Gardiner, Col. Fitzwilliam
FERGUS LEATHEM – Mr Wickham, Gentleman Friend, Mr Lucas, Mr Collins
JANNA FOX – Elizabeth Bennet
AMY FORDE – Jane Bennet, Gerogiana Darcy, Miss de Borogh
EVELYN SHAW – Lydia Bennet, Caroline Bingley
LAUREN MILLS – Mrs Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mrs Gardiner
ELLA SAWYERS - Mary Bennet, Charlotte Lucas, Mrs Reynolds
DIRECTOR – REBECCA GADSBY
Wednesday 22nd July - 7.30pm Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens - Fota Island, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork 021 481 5543
Thursday 23rd July - 6.30pm Mount Juliet Resort - Thomastown, Co Kilkenny 056 777 3000
Friday 24th July - 7.30pm Malahide Castle & Gardens - Co Dublin 0181 69 538
Sunday 26th July - 3pm The Gardens at Rathmullan House - Co Donegal 074 915 8188
Tuesday 28th July - 7pm Carnfunnock Country Park - Larne, Co. Antrim - BT40 2QG
1st August Wells House and Gardens. Saturday 1st August, The Jungle Book.