"It's such a compulsive love story," English actress Jennifer Ehle said recently of "Pride and Prejudice" - both the six-hour A&E/BBC co-production in which she plays Lizzy and the serio-comic Jane Austen novel of 19th-century English courtship on which the miniseries is based. A long-time Austen addict, Ehle spoke from Warwickshire, England, where she was performing concurrently in three Royal Shakespeare Company plays - "Richard III," "The Relapse," and "The Painter of Dishonor."
"The verbal sparring matches between Darcy and Lizzy are so very erotic, I think because they're both so intelligent and they've finally met their match," Ehle said. "I've read the novel four times, and it does create this desperate urge for these two people to get together, because you never believe they really will."
"And another thing that made `Pride and Prejudice' so successful when it aired in England last fall is that Lizzy has attributes that women in the '90s think they've reclaimed. It's wonderful to see a 19th-century character who had the same independence, integrity and free-spiritedness."
Like most "Pride and Prejudice" aficionados, Ehle and Birtwistle each have their favorite moments. To Ehle it's when Lizzy finally tells her father that "Mr. Darcy is the most wonderful person she has ever known."
"You see, Mr. Bennet has great weakness. He's stuck in this dubious marriage, burying himself in his office, and he lets Mrs. Bennet run riot. When Lizzy finally sees her own father's weakness, that frees her to fall in love with Darcy."
Reminder: The River King is showing in Halifax tomorrow, Monday 19th. Don't miss out!