Sense and Sensibility: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

sense_421_twood_web 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!

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Sense and Sensibility: A Very Short Review — 4 Comments

  1. I saw a musical version of Pride and Prejudice last week that did not work as well–for me–as this production of Sense and Sensibility did for you. My feeling is that both P&P and S&S are comedies with a dark, almost Shakespearean, sense of high stakes–and Shakespeare can be played high or low, comedy-wise. The P&P I saw was all comedy–and they left out the entire trip to Pemberly (but still had Lady Catherine come stalking in toward the end)–and seemed a bit thin to me. Still, there was some delight to it.

    A few years ago I saw a musical of Emma. Now that’s a book that was made for musical comedy.

  2. I realized that for some reason I completely missed the BBC production of EMMA that ran during the period they were doing all the Austen novels. A friend is going to lend me the DVD.
    The spirit of musicals (bursting into song when it just All Gets To Be Too Much) is not really what Austen does, I agree. Anyway, if this production of S&S gets out your way do see it — it’s a hoot.

  3. I really loved this production of S&S, which I saw this past weekend. The energy is contagiously breathless. I don’t know how the actors manage to not just collapse in tiny heaps in the background after the curtain call. I wasn’t absolutely convinced of the appropriateness of the final consummation of the couples (in a non-biblical sense), but the ride was an absolute joy to be on with them. The woman playing Elinor won me over with her restrained but still evident emotion.

  4. Yes — I was mildly puzzled at how everybody was stretching and exercising before the opening of the show, but clearly they needed to be physically ready! I love it when live theater really exploits the possibilities of the stage. I do not want to see a staged movie!