September 11th, 2011

piranha - pop hat.

Theatreworks: Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility
(The Stage Show)

I was rather underwhelmed by Sense and Sensibility when I read the novel two years ago. All the characters annoyed me for one reason or another: Elinor was too cold, Marianne was too emo, etc. I think that, too, I was mentally comparing it to Pride and Prejudice, which is a much more energetic book. Sense and Sensibility just seems so sluggish!

Anyway. Theatreworks, up in Mountain View, is doing a play version of Sense and Sensibility, and I wanted to see it. (I’m still rather annoyed that I missed the musical of Emma they did a few years back.) This is, what, three shows in less than a week? Turandot, Spring Awakening and now S&S? I wish theatre companies did a better job of spacing their shows out, but they always seem to arrive in clusters.

It’s such a fun play! I liked it so much better than reading the book. Many of the minor characters are gone – Mrs. Dashwood is dead, the youngest sister Margaret never existed, and the Middletons are only mentioned by name, if at all. Mrs. Jennings, if I remember correctly, is now an aunt of the Dashwood sisters. (I can’t remember if they were related in the book.) Many side plots were probably cut as well, making the narrative very tight and fast-paced. It was a great improvement.

An interesting thing that the director did was include period music throughout. So while this isn’t quite a musical, the characters (especially Marianne) would often reveal their emotions through 18th and 19th century songs, many of which were pulled from a collection Jane Austen had put together herself. Given how often characters in Austen novels seem to sit around and listen to each other sing and play the pianoforte, I really thought this added to the show.

Also, the costumes also made me so jealous! Every time someone would come sweeping in with a full-length gown, I sighed a little. Why don’t we dress up like that anymore?