A very Austen holidayKelly Kleimanon December 7, 2022 at 5:36 pm

Playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon wrap up their Pride and Prejudice fan fiction trilogy with Georgiana and Kitty, once more bringing to the center of the action characters peripheral in Jane Austen’s book. In this case, we’re dealing with the sister of Mr. Darcy and the youngest of the Bennet sisters. Naturally, the story is a romance, but it’s also something of a feminist tract as it focuses on Georgiana’s musical gifts and her determination that they not be dismissed just because she’s a woman. And naturally, Darcy (fiercely embodied by Yousof Sultani) can be counted on to interfere with her happiness, whether personal or professional.  

Georgiana & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley Through 12/24: Wed 1 and 7:30 PM, Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2:30 and 8 PM, Sun 2:30 PM; also Tue 12/20 7:30 PM and Fri 12/23 2:30 PM, Sat 12/24 2:30 PM only; open captions and ASL interpretation Fri 12/16, open captions and audio description Sat 12/17 2:30 PM; North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673-6300, northlight.org, $30-$89 ($15 students pending availability)

As with every rom-com, the plot is not the point, and the only longueurs occur when our heroines insist on attention to their project rather than their relationships. This is particularly the case with Georgiana (the adorable Janyce Caraballo) and her painfully shy beau Henry Gray (Erik Hellman, so delightfully awkward that it’s easy to imagine the audience feeling as smitten as Georgiana). When Henry disappears for most of act two and the Women’s Music Society takes his place, even devout feminists might miss him. And the wooing of Kitty (Samantha Newcomb, charming and suitably bossy) by Thomas O’Brien (Nate Santana, just as charming and cheerfully feckless) goes from flirtation to marriage during intermission, which seems like a false economy.

But these quibbles are beside the point, as the play is a thoroughly finished product co-commissioned by Northlight and theater companies in Minneapolis and California and enjoying a rolling world premiere at each of them. Marti Lyons’s production, particularly the music by Christopher Kriz which holds such a central role in the love story, is impeccable. You don’t need to have seen the other plays to enjoy this one, though if you have you’ll enjoy the notion that the others are taking place simultaneously, just offstage. That makes Christmas at Pemberley a sort of dramaturgical layer cake—a delicious one.

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