Ballarat National Theatre

Mr Bennets Bride Square

Show Dates

Thursday, 22nd September, BAF Fundraiser.  
Friday, 23 September 7.30pm, Opening Night
ONLINE Live Stream: Friday, 23 September 7.30pm.
Saturday, 24 September. 2.00pm and 7.30pm
Sunday, 25 September. 2.00 pm followed by our Jane Austen High Tea.
Tuesday, 27 September. 7.30pm
Wednesday, 28 September. 7.30pm
Thursday, 29 September. 7.30pm

Merchandise is available here  

Performance Venue

The Reading Room
Craig's Royal Hotel
10 Lydiard St Sth, Ballarat Central

Access to the performance venue is available via elevator or stairs.


About the play

Have you ever wondered how a couple like Mr and Mrs Bennet ended up wed?

This is the story of how it all began.

The young Mr Bennet is under pressure to find a suitable bride, but his refusal to play by the rules sets in motion a series of events that are both comic and moving.

A Pride and Prejudice prequel by award-winning playwright Emma Wood that tells the story of how an unlikely couple like Mr and Mrs Bennet got together. A story applauded by critics for capturing Austen’s style, but still be accessible for those new to Austen’s works.

Reviews of other adaptions around the world give the script these reviews:

"...witty, charming and quite delightful… loyal to the Jane Austen style."
"A clever and sophisticated script... Even the most loyal Austeniens would approve."
"An ingenious look at Jane Austen's characters."

Mr Bennets Bride Master A5 148 210 mmAbout the Director

Megan J Riedl is a purveyor of words for the page and the stage. She creates connections by feeling out loud. Combining the personal and political, Megan leads by example in standing up, showing up and speaking up, sharing the messy, human experiences that often go unspoken. Megan’s poetry fearlessly gives voice to the secret stories we tell ourselves and her playwriting explores themes of identity, belonging, truth and power, highlighting issues of social justice. A collaborative theatrical director, Megan creates beautiful worlds of stylised realism for the stage.

A powerful spoken word performer, Megan was awarded Queensland Poetry’s 2021 XYZ Innovation in Spoken Word Prize and was an Australian Poetry Slam State Finalist in the past three years, as well as a finalist for the 2019 Melbourne Spoken Word Prize. She has been commissioned as part of City of Ballarat’s creative COVID response, and created poetic calls to action for the Ballarat Greens and Let’s Talk Peace, Ballarat. She has featured at Mother Tongue - Women Speak, Melbourne Spoken Word’s Fresh Voices Online, Wordcraft Spoken Word, Girls on Key and Melbourne Writers Theatre’s ‘Victorious: Words from the Pandemic’.

Megan’s written poetry has been featured in BabyTeeth journal and the Melbourne Writer’s Group’s Melbourne Lockdown Anthology. She has exhibited writing in Ballarat-based literary projects Minerva Speaks, Weathering the Future and They Are Us, and the Immigration Museum’s Becoming You exhibition.

Megan’s plays and monologues have been produced by Tripwire Theatre Inc, Bendigo Theatre Company, Baggage Productions, Skin Of Our Teeth Productions, Theatre 3Triple2 and Wyndham Theatre Company. Her directing credits include Hysterica (Skin of Our Teeth), The Sum of Us (Creswick Theatre Company), Medea (Ballarat National Theatre), Penance (Independent), The Carer (Hobo Playhouse) and five original self-produced plays with Tripwire Theatre Inc. In 2020, Megan participated in Melbourne Writers’ Theatre’s In One Act script development program.

An active member of Ballarat’s arts scene, Megan is currently serving on the boards of Ballarat Writers and Spark Theatre and was a mentee in the Ballarat Arts Foundation 2021 Mentor Program.

Megan lives and works on stolen Wadawurrung land with her two children, and can be found at www.meganjriedl.com




Mark Briggs

Mark Briggs

Robert Bennet
Shannon Nicholls

Shannon Nicholls

Benedict Collins
Ciaran Corrigan

Ciaran Corrigan

James Bennet
Lynette Plenderlieth

Lynette Plenderlieth

Mrs Graves
Sarah Gardiner
Ruby Abbott

Ruby Abbott

Emily Gardiner
Clementine Sawyer

Clementine Sawyer

Emily Gardiner
Dan Purdey

Dan Purdey

George Gardiner
Elly Krieg

Elly Krieg

Mary Ellingworth
Mika Wallace

Mika Wallace

Clara Bowman
Laura Farrow

Laura Farrow

Mrs Bowman
Grant Johnson

Grant Johnson

George Gardiner



Assistant Director  Mei Turnbull
Stage manager Tess Kelly
Rehearsal prompt Laura Farrow
Costumes Alexandra Meerbach
Props Shell Pryor
Sound Mike Zala
Accent coach and literary consultant Olivia French
Production Manager Robyn Ashmore
Front of House Manager Shell Pryor
Photography and marketing Liana Skewes
Live stream production Liana Skewes


Playwright Emma Wood

mrs bennett emma wood


Emma is an award-winning actor and playwright. Emma has played lead roles with Newcastle Theatre Company (NTC), Canberra Repertory, Ballarat Lyric Theatre, and many other companies. A highlight of recent years included performing in Playhouse Creatures (Pigeonhole Theatre) in Monaco at the Mondial Theatre Festival, following a professional production at The Q Theatre.

Emma and her husband ran the independent company Pawprint Productions in 2006-07 working with many fine local actors on The Importance of Being Earnest, Vagina Monologues, Of Mice and Men.

As a playwright, Emma creates stories that are both humorous and touching. Her four full-length plays have struck a chord with audiences in many productions. Emma worked with Warrandyte Theatre Company and Ballarat National Theatre in 2020 to produce

A 2020 Vision https://bnt.org.au/a-2020-vision. Mr Bennet's Bride broke box office records at its Newcastle Theatre Company premiere and has been produced several times since in Australia and the UK.
Emma is delighted to re-connect with the Ballarat theatre community.








Performance Gallery

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Rehearsal Gallery




The Ballarat Times - September 8 - Mr Bennet's Bride
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Victorian Drama League Awards

Shannon Nicholls - WINNER Best Actor in a Minor Role - Comedy
Lynette Plenderleith - NOMINATION Best Supporting Actress - Comedy



Reviewer: Tayla of Short Girl in the Stalls.

I have a confession. I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice. Or seen it. I know. It’s shocking. I did have the absolute pleasure of being invited to witness this story of how James Bennet falls for Emily Gardiner, on September 25th 2022 at 2pm, with Ballarat National Theatre’s production of Mr Bennet’s Bride, and I can safely say that it was hilarious!

Mr Bennet’s Bride, by Emma Wood, is a prequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, taking place around 25 years earlier.

Emma Wood has done a wonderful job of maintaining the Austen feel, while still using a unique voice, humour and wit within the book. Mr Bennet’s Bride first premiered in Newcastle in 2014, had record sales for its season, and has been performed in various other places; with audiences finding it hilarious, yet touching, with a little Austen charm thrown in!

Read the full review here.


Reviewer: Deborah Fabbro for Victorian Drama League.

Having attended BNT’s production of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ back in 2018, I was interested to see their production of Emma Wood’s, ‘Mr Bennet’s Bride’. Award-winning Australian playwright Emma Wood was inspired by the characters of Mr and Mrs Bennet from Jane Austen’s novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and chose to surmise about their meeting 20+ years before the action that takes place in the novel. Whilst knowledge of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is not essential to enjoying this play, one does take pleasure from the nodding references included by the playwright.

In a time when marriage was as much a business transaction as a romantic affair, James Bennet (Mr Bennet of P&P) is being pressured by his father, Robert, to marry and produce an heir to continue their line and retain the Longbourn estate which if he doesn’t will pass, through an entail, to his distant cousin Benedict Collins (the father of William Collins of P&P). James is reluctant to accept the idea of marriage but sees an opportunity to spite his father by courting the daughter, Emily, of the family’s attorney-at-law, George Gardiner, someone below his class.

In a departure from their usual venue at The Courthouse Theatre, BNT used the Reading Room at the historic Craig’s Hotel to stage this production. Although this building dates from the 1850s, a later period than that in which the play is set, the sumptuous decor with its taffeta draperies, provided an elegant locale. All of the action, with the exception of a couple of entrances, took place on the raised platform at one end of the room. The area doubled as the drawing room of Longbourn as well as the Gardiners’ home. Although I understand the use of plain chairs sought to not clarify the status of each household and was not an inappropriate design decision I did question the choice of them being white. I would have preferred the use of the balloon back chairs that the audience were seated on. That said, the area was mostly used well though there were a few blocking choices which meant actors were not playing in a suitable position.

Mark Briggs gave us a dignified Robert, and we got a good sense of his frustration with his indolent son, James, who was suitably played by Ciaran Corrigan. The other member of their household was Robert’s sister, Mary Ellingworth (not Bennet as is stated in the programme), beautifully portrayed by Elly Krieg who captured not only the calm and graceful persona of the character but also played in the style of the period perfectly. Dan Purdy portrayed the measured and businesslike lawyer, George Gardiner, in a suitably competent performance which contrasted nicely with Lynette Plenderleith’s depiction of his flighty wife, Sarah. The role of their daughter, Emily, was shared by Ruby Abbott and Clementine Sawyer. I saw Clementine at the performance I attended and she gave delightful rendition of an excited, twittering young girl. We can well understand how she would have morphed into the Mrs Bennet of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, prone to histrionics.

Shannon Nicholls, having played William Collins in BNT’s production of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, now plays his father Benedict. He conveyed the pomposity and arrogance of the character well.

Early in the play there is a scene when would-be bride Clara Bowman and her mother attend Longbourn in the hope of catching James. These roles were played by Mika Wallace and Laura Farrow respectively.

Ms Plenderleith also doubled in the role of the Bennet’s observant yet deferential housekeeper Mrs Graves.

Mike Zala provided a lovely gentle soundscape with music befitting the period.

Alexandra Meerbach’s costumes were lavish and all mostly fitted the period, particularly those worn by the men. The millinery created by Megan J Riedl was stunning but the actors’ faces do need to be seen; not only were they shadowed but in the case of Mrs Bowman her face was totally masked when she was facing stage left, which she did for much of her scene. I also felt there was a scene when the resident of the house would not have been wearing a hat. And definitely Mr Collins would have removed his hat upon entering into the room and the presence of ladies. He could have remained in his coat, as he did, for the line about being in his riding/travelling gear.

Director, Megan J Riedl, had obviously given her cast opportunity to play with the comedic aspects of the dialogue and despite the slow start to the performance pace did pick up.

I commend BNT for their innovation in presenting this production in a different environment and generally coping with the vagaries and challenges that it would present.