I've never read Persuasion nor seen any adaptation of it, but the story is still familiar to me. A young woman finds her fortunes declining, must deal with annoying relations, while there is an impediment to her marrying the man that she loves (whether internal or external), and a charming red herring of a man turns out to be unworthy. In this case, Anne is the ripe old age of 27, and she once almost married the man she loves, a Captain Wentworth. But her father, older sister, and dear friend of her deceased mother persuaded her that he was beneath her in stature. Now, eight years later, they meet again. Fortunes have reversed - he's a successful captain and her family has been forced to vacate their home for a smaller, more affordable place. They both still love the other, but pride or prejudice, sense or sensibility, get in the way. Of course they do eventually admit their love for each other, but watching the unsmooth course of their true love makes the eventual reunion that much sweeter.
|"Dearest Mama..." (Audrey Johnson as
Anne, photo by Anna Stauber)
Audrey Johnson gives a wonderfully warm and fully realized performance as Anne. She rarely leaves the stage and delivers many monologues that begin with "Dearest Mama" and end with "Love, Anne." And every time she says the words "Love, Anne" (which is a lot) they mean something different. With just those two words Audrey conveys exactly what Anne is feeling at the moment - joy, confusion, excitement, resignation, uncertainty, despair, hope. A super-cut of every time she says "Love, Anne" would contain the entire arc of the character.
|the cast of Persuasion (photo by Anna Stauber)
Persuasion plays out on a mostly bare stage, allowing the setting to be in the imagination of the audience, which is easy to do thanks to Jane Austen's words. The ensemble, dressed in period costumes, moves freely around the stage, including through the audience of the auditorium theater at the Wellstone Center in West St. Paul.
The delightfully charming Persuasion continues through June 18th. At a ticket price of just $18, it's a great opportunity to enjoy one of Jane Austen's lesser known works onstage and sample the work of the talented young theater artists at Aethem Thetare Company.