By ROBERT HAGELSTEIN
Reprinted from lacunaemusing.blogspot.com
Posted June 27, 2017
Calling all Janeites! Calling all Janeites! Mr. Henry Dashwood has died, leaving his home to John, son from his first marriage, and John’s scheming wife, Fanny, who has convinced her husband to banish his father’s second wife and her three daughters from their home, relegating them to Barton Cottage in Devonshire. The shock of it all! A mere cottage! And the three young women, two of marriageable age, Elinor and Marianne, have no attachments and the bereft Dashwood women have but a very small inherited income. If you are an inveterate Jane Austen enthusiast, you of course recognize this as the beginning of the story of “Sense and Sensibility,” her first novel published in 1811. It is a whirlwind novel of scandal, gossip, attachments made and attachments broken, the manners and mores of Regency England, and of course love.
Here is a wonderful adaptation written by Kate Hamill for the stage which opened last week, a high energy production by FAU’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Ultimately, the affections of the steadfast Edward Ferrars, and the stalwart Colonel Brandon win over the sensible Elinor and the mercurial Marianne, respectively, but before that much anticipated denouement, we are treated to a dizzying array of plot complications and impediments to love conquering all.
The cast made up mostly of MFA Graduate Students and two equity actors are all equally professional. If this is the future of South Florida Theater, it will flourish. It is a large cast including several members of “gossip groups,” sort of a Greek Chorus which brings the audience into the temper of the times. Hilariously, they also function as dogs and horses in the play, just adding more action to what is already a lot of moving parts on stage as the minimalist scenery is on wheels and the cast is constantly moving them into new places. Comedic elements emerge throughout the production.
Although it is impossible to comment on each and every performer, they are all very convincing, but a special call out to Jessica Eaton who plays Fanny, her malice giving no grounds, and Traven Call, who captures the essence of dog, horse, and finally the foppish brother of Edward, Robert Ferris. Amanda Corbett plays Elinor and Gabriela Tortoledo is Marianne, both performing flawlessly in these two demanding major roles.
What makes this production so enjoyable is the period Regency costumes (Dawn Shamburger), the music of the times (sound design by Rich Szczublewski), the fast-moving choreography (kudos to director Jean-Louis Baldet and stage manager Suzanne Clement Jones) and, again, a cast thoroughly committed to their craft. Technical and lighting design is by Thomas M. Shorrock, and K. April Soroko is scenic designer. A special mention goes to the dialect coach, Jenna Wyatt – getting that right is half the battle in such a production.
If there is one minor quibble (not to me personally, but it might be to some) it is the length, more than two and one-half hours including intermission. Of course, a familiarity with the novel would be helpful. If you haven’t read it, there is always Wikipedia. But after you’ve seen it, maybe you will want to read it as well as all of Jane Austen and become a Janeite like my wife Ann!
Pictured above: Amanda Corbett, Sean Patrick Gibbons and Gabriela Tortoledo in “Sense and Sensibility,” currently playing at Studio One Theatre on the campus of Florida Atlantic University.
Studio One Theatre is on the campus of Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Rd. in Boca Raton. To purchase tickets, call the box office at (800) 564-9539 or go online to fauevents.com/events.
To read more reviews by Robert Hagelstein, as well as his writings covering topics including business, literature and politics, go to lacunaemusing.blogspot.com.