by Brenda W. Clough
By this point the works of Jane Austen have had a great deal of screen time. They are also making inroads upon the stage, and I went to the Folger Shakespeare Theater‘s production of Sense and Sensibility this month. This is the well-reviewed production that was on Broadway a few years ago.
Our vision of this novel has been completely renovated by Emma Thompson’s excellent movie version. Her snappy and intelligent script has a visible influence upon this stage version, scripted by Kate Hamill. What the stage gets you, that you cannot get on the screen or on the page, is theatricality. Click on the production link, up in the previous paragraph, and have a look at the video. The stage and the set is a buzz of storytelling motion, furniture flying, windows spinning. And I am particularly enchanted by the cast, which doubles and even trebles key roles. When you see an actress play both participants in a drawing room conversation, that’s something no book or movie can do for you.
This is also a production that deliberately emphasizes the comedy. The novel is a hoot, but you may not realize it until you see it staged. It is wonderfully accessible and a complete delight — catch it if you can!