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  • Karyn Ashby

MAC treats with Miss Bennett

For Jane Austen fans who adore the spirited Bennet sisters and their respective

partners, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly ,now on at view in Glen Ellyn,

might be a perfect addition to your holiday calendar. The show is well-executed, amusing,

and the two lead actors, Whitney Dottery as Mary Bennet and Daniel Millhouse as Arthur de

Bourgh, are outstanding in their respective roles. Dottery maintains perfect

diction and Georgian composure while delivering witty one-liners with a satisfying

snarky undercurrent. Her emotional depth rings true. Millhouse fully embodies

Arthur’s characteristics – his boisterous performance is grounded in physicality

and believability. References to the source material are abundant and lead to

delightful scenes - the male cast’s frantic tete-a-tete regarding courtship of the

Bennet sisters is just inherently hilarious.

For those who would delve deeper into dissection of plot and arc, however,

the play may not be your cup of Austen tea. The stakes in the source novel, Pride

and Prejudice, are high. The Bennet’s will lose their land and livelihood if their

daughters do not marry into gentry society, and their unconventionality provides

further complication. In Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly no such conflict

exists after Jane and Elizabeth’s successful marriages. A central theme presented

is being trapped in life roles without choices and the exploration is a bit thin and

inadequately resolved. Instead, the focus is on breathless romance, and a

charming foray into the future involving characters we hold dear.

The comedic elements of the play are situational, character-driven, and

crowd-pleasing, if somewhat predictable. Excellent character actor work abounds,

though sometimes unevenly enacted. Lydia Wickham, played by Danielle Kerr,

remains immature and impulsive, but I found her scandalous behaviors a tad

overdone - more subtlety in stage direction would suffice. I wished for stronger

script development of Jane Bingley’s character, as there was content left

unmined. Overall, the cast did an excellent job solidly supporting the leads with

effusive breakout moments of their own.

My companion’s review was that the writing turned Austen’s aesthetic into

a sitcom. I don’t disagree, with the caveat that sitcoms can be very enjoyable


Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly is playing Thursdays through Sundays at McCaninch Arts Center at the College of Dupage, 425 Fawell Blve in Glen Ellyn through December 17, 2023. for tickets and information go to

Photo by Rex Howard

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