Monday, 16 December 2019

Deft adaptation pits common sense against emotionality

Deft adaptation pits common sense against emotionality

Sense and Sensibility | Morrell Room, Streatley | Friday, November 22

IT was a joy to watch the Goring Gap Players relish Jessica Swale’s fast-paced and deft adaptation of Jane Austen’s first novel Sense and Sensibility for a justifiably sold-out run at the Morrell Rooms Streatley, directed by Janet D’Alton.

The cast had enormous fun, as did the audience, who were in hoots throughout the evening.

This sharp and entertaining satirical observation of English early 19th century upper middle-class life, where social status is writ large, dependent on property, wealth, and marriage prospects, shows how two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood must navigate society’s expectations, ensure their financial security and fulfil their own romantic aspirations.

Which is best, common sense, represented by Elinor, or emotionality, represented by Marianne? Or do we need both for a happy and contented life?

Strong performances from all the cast and very well-rehearsed scene-changes — for there were many — kept the story moving along.

A large cast of 21 makes it difficult to mention everyone, but lovely touches included Rosie Till’s debut, as a delightfully wide-eyed Margaret Dashwood, innocently brandishing the contents of her “naturalist bucket” at the most inopportune moments; Amanda Holland embracing the infuriating although ultimately useful match-making efforts of Mrs Jennings with characteristic aplomb and great comedic timing; and the tilt of Caro Armstrong’s nose and crisp enunciation giving a suitably imperious feel to spoilt Fanny Dashwood, alongside her cowed and equally spoilt husband John, played by Michael Fielding.

Admirable also was John Turner’s quietly steadfast bass-baritone Colonel Brandon, whose unrequited love is finally returned by the exuberant, emotional Marianne, played with just the right amount of freedom and liveliness by Summer Morrison.

Phil Davies’s Edward Ferrars was suitably awkward and enamoured of Jo Watson’s restrained demeanour as the sensible Elinor.

Heather Trevis captured very well the cunning flattery Lucy Steele employs to ensnare vain Robert Ferrars, played by a simpering Ian Morrison.

Droll servants, gossipy gossips, the whirlwind of pregnant Mrs Palmer, her monosyllabic husband, the “uncommonly handsome” Willoughby, and the ebullient and kind Sir John — the cast carried the audience from start to finish with great humour, and they richly deserved the long applause at the end.

Imogen Smart and Yvonne Braby

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