Theatre Review: Eric’s Pride and Prejudice @ The New Vic

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The North Staffordshire theatre-goer knows that Christmas is just around the corner when the second ration of the Eric saga is showing at the New Vic.

It has now become a local tradition to kick-off the festive season with another slice of mayhem pie from the pen of David Graham.

The packed audience – hardly a seat was left unfilled – was royally entertained by the King of local laughter as Eric strayed from the normal chaos of domestic life with Eric and Bev to transport us back to the more genteel days of late 18th Century England – or at least it was until Mr Graham decided to adapt Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Eric decides to spend the night in his local pub and leaves his wife alone to read the classic novel. Bev soon drifts asleep and her dreams see her transformed into the matriarch of the Bennett family. Desperate to marry off her five daughters, Mrs Bennett and her harassed husband decide to throw a ball and invite the eligible bachelors in the area.

The daughters are a motley bunch. Elizabeth and Lydia are definitely eye candy but Mary is so shy that she only makes fleeting appearances as she hides away in her bedroom while it would take a special man to fall for the dubious attractions of Jane and Kate.

However, the male wannabes are hardly great catches either despite the eligibility that Mrs Bennett believes they possess due to their bank balances.

Reverend Collins is rejected out of hand by the daughters who do not fancy life with a local priest after their less than chaste teenage years while Austin Bradford demonstrates why he has the reputation of a committed bachelor.

The two leading candidates for a hand in marriage are Mr Bingley and Eric Arcy. Unfortunately, Bingley is too tongue-tied to make a favourable impression and Eric – despite his dashing appearance – is, frankly, too old. His moniker of five-times-a-night Eric has nothing to do with his sexual prowess.

Any member of the Jane Austen Appreciation Society would notice the fleeting nods to the classic novel. The dialogue is very much of the period and some of the characters do find life-long partners. Even more importantly, Arcy does emerge with his wet shirt clinging to his body – just not in the style of Colin Firth.

The crucial fact though is that this is another great hit in the series that is Eric. With familiar cast members and the opportunity to once again share time with beloved characters, the bi-annual event is eagerly awaited by all those who have fallen under Eric’s spell.

With its perfectly executed soundtrack and the jokes coming thick and fast, it is one of those evenings where you can just kick off your shoes and relax as you wallow in the pure joy of the moment. Until your toes begin to twitch and you just have to get up and boogie that is!!

An evening with Eric is like wearing your favourite slippers. The audience member just knows that everything is going to be really rewarding. The patrons know exactly what they want and David Graham delivers in spades.

With the show on the threshold of completing 25 years of existence, there is no sign of it slowing down yet. If you have yet to ride the Eric train, then now would be an ideal time to jump on board. The destination is an evening of delight.

Eric continues until December 9th and has a running time of approximately 2 hours 40 minutes including interval. For information contact 01782 717962 or tickets@newvictheatre.org.com