In case you get your Jane Austen novels confused like I sometimes do, S&S is the one with the three Dashwood sisters whose father died, leaving his estate to his son from his first marriage, which leaves them and their mother homeless. A kindly relation provides them a small cottage to live in, which is pleasant enough if less grand than they're used to (and they still have servants so they're not exactly poor). Eldest daughter Elinor (sense) has made a connection with her sister-in-law's brother Edward Ferrars, and is happy when he visits them at their new home, but distraught when she inadvertently finds out about his secret engagement to one Miss Steele. Second daughter Marianne (sensibility) falls for the dashing Mr. Willoughby and soon they're almost engaged. But not quite, because if there's one thing certain about Jane Austen, it's that the handsome charming man is actually a heel. There's a health crisis, and the sisters (including youngest Margaret) bond together for an eventual happy ending, if not the one they expected.
|the Dashwoods go for a walk|
(photo courtesy of Lyric Arts)
The simple and elegant set (designed by Sarah Brandner) consists of a backdrop of draped white curtains (warmly lit by Jim Eischen) and a few period set pieces. These are moved between scenes by the ensemble (dressed in lovely period garb designed by Kathleen Martin), sometimes accompanied by music (pop songs in classical arrangements) and movement (directed by James Kunz). But sometimes scene transitions are done in silence, which slows down the storytelling. A more consistent use of music and movement throughout would keep the momentum going. They make great use of the entire theater space, with those long rambling walks through the countryside taking the actors up and down the aisles.
Kate Hamill's Sense and Sensibility is a fresh and modern adaptation of a classic, that still stays true to what we love about the original. Lyric Arts' entertaining production continues through March 3.