Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Sense And Sensibility"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark

"Sense and Sensibility "

Adapted by Pamela Whalan,
from the novel by Jane Austen
Directed by Michelle M. Aguillon

Set Design & Dress by Michelle Aguillon & Gabrielle Hatcher
Lighting Design by Matt Silverstein
Assistant Lighting Design by Ed Council
Costumes by Kimmerie H.O. Jones
Sound Design by Michelle Aguillon
Producer Mark Sickler
Stage Manager Michelle McDonald

Fanny Dashwood.........Tracy Nygard
John Dashwood. ........Mike Soulios
Elinor Dashwood.........Leigh Berry
Marianne Dashwood........Sara Jones
Mrs. Dashwood..........Jill Wassong
Colonel Brandon......Michael Peluso
Willoughby..............Angus Merry
Sir John Middleton.....Mark Sickler
Mrs. Jennings........Kristin Hughes
Lucy Steele. ........Brashani Reece
Robert Ferrars.......Evan Bernstein
Hester.................Jessie Olson
Martha...Gabrielle Aguillon-Hatcher

Pamela Whalan has been commissioned by the international Jane Austin Society to bring all seven of her famous novels to the stage. And she came here from her home in Australia to see the American Premier of her adaptation of "Sense and Sensibility" at The Hovey Players.

There is a lot of room for scene-setting exposition in a novel, and there are elaborate relationships among the sprawling Dashwood clan that need to be established. And so for the first few minutes of this play, Tracy Nygard and Mike Soulios sit, discussing their relatives' need to marry someone --- Anyone! --- with money. Once Leigh Berry as the practical Elinor and Sara Jones as the emotional Marianne actually get on-stage and their "gentleman callers" in smooth cream trousers and gaudy jackets begin arriving, the play takes off.

Kimmerie H.O. Jones has again built costumes that define the period so well some look as though they'd stepped from paintngs. The material of the play is non-stop gossip about who is all but engaged to whom, and how much that might mean in spendable income --- and the clear-eyed hope that the best matches might include the possibility of true love.

Love and the rumors of love beset these two protagonists on every side, but there are also peripheral characters ready to explain actions --- r demonstrate them. Brashani Reece plays a woman playing a game of brazen subterfuge and barbed rumor to get a man, while Kristin Hughes plays a worldly London widow playing crafty Mum to the Dashwood girls.

The men (Michael Peluso, Angus Merry, Mark Sickler, and Evan Bernstein) never get much chance to reveal their inner souls, and since they must try to conceal their motives in mixed company they seem ultra-reserved in their finery --- until that breathless moment when their true selections can be made.

If you've read enough of these Regency romances to make emipire necklines and baloney-curls a joy, watching this novel come alive will be exactly Your Thing.


"Sense And Sensibility" (15 - 30 September)
The Abbott Memorial Theatre, 9 Spring Street, WALTHAM

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide