Celebrating Female Joy in a Play from Lauren Gunderson

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James Lewis and Melinda Marks star in 'Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley' at City Lights in San Jose (Photo: Courtesy of City LIghts Theater Company)

Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley, the current production at San Jose’s City Lights Theater, is a play that's light as a feather, with a sneakily subversive message about the charm of brainy women. It's a sequel to Pride and Prejudice by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, with the bookish Mary Bennett finding true love after a series of comic mishaps. It debuted last year and, noting the title and the Christmas tree lighting scene, this is definitely a holiday play that theater-loving families will appreciate.

Gunderson, a Bay Area resident, told me there are 16 productions of this show around the country this year. I asked her why it’s become such a quick success. "There’s something necessary and urgent and even a bit radical about celebrating joy, specifically when it’s female joy and friendship," underson said. "And it brings people together with a warm hearted story that will make people feel really good at the end, and I think the world really needs that right now." Details here.