Sense And Sensibility In York
Andrew Liddle, Features Writer
Fate and Fortitude might well be a generic title for several of Jane Austen’s novels, particularly those about the sensible sensitive girl waiting it out for the hand of the man she is fated to end up with - almost, gentle reader, from the first page.
In Sense and Sensibility, it’s the sweetly stoical Elinor Dashwood, an appealing presence as performed by Sarah Kempton, who has a lacy cap set in the direction of the equally sensible and sensitive Edward Ferrars, nicely realised by Toby Vaughan. Yes they’re meant for each other but the dance of dalliance must play out, with the hero’s intentions – as ever – confused, misunderstood and thwarted by earlier more minor blandishments and imprudent commitments.
Marianne Dashwood, passionate and wilfully headstrong, the very opposite of her sister, takes a decidedly different route, fate moving in mysterious ways. The splendid Alice Imelda’s Marianne is besotted too quickly, too incautiously, with the rakish John Willoughby, hardly surprising really given the dash of élan that Oliver Mott brings to the part. Blind she is to the more sober virtues of Thomas Richardson’s dutifully Darcyesque Colonel Brandon, who behaves as responsibly as Willoughby’s conduct is reprehensible. Yet fate will have its way, smooth is never the course of the genuine article and all that!
A large cast of highly accomplished, beautifully attired actors, do full justice to Julia Forster’s elegant, energetic, resourceful production. The adaptation, by Jessica Swale, is a tour de force, responding faithfully to the exigencies of plot and sub-plot, at the same time as widening the vista, introducing pageant and recreating in dramatic form Jane’s gently ironic humour.
The transition from scene to scene is handled smoothly thanks to the ingenious folding set of Barney George’s design – augmented by video projections. We have several dances nicely choreographed and even a thrillingly all-action sword fight worthy of Douglas Fairbanks Jr., somewhat unexpected in Jane Austen. Presumably Sian Williams, movement director, is to be thanked for this.
This is the first of four plays being performed by ten actors in twelve days at York Theatre Royal by Theatre By The Lake, Keswick. On the strength of this eminently sensible Sense and Sensibility, it is worth booking yourself in for the full season.
Sense and Sensibility is at York Theatre Royal from the 6th November to the 10th.
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Sense And Sensibility In York, 8th November 2018, 11:33 AM