By Dan and Alison Tingley
Sense and Sensibility, directed by Carolin Lynn, is now playing at the Erie Playhouse. The play is based on the novel by Jane Austen and adapted by Jon Jory. Sense and Sensibility has been adapted as a television miniseries in 1981 and 2008 and a movie in 1995. The movie starred Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman. One of us (Alison) is a big Jane Austen fan. She imagines that they would have been friends in the 1800s. (Alison’s a little strange, but it’s cool.) So, Alison was pretty excited to go see this play.
Sense and Sensibility is the story of Marianne and Elinor Dashwood, and their mother and younger sister, who are left with a very small amount of money on which to survive after their father dies and their half-brother inherits their home. While Marianne is a heart-on-your-sleeve kind of girl, Elinor is more reserved. Set in the early 1800’s in England, their only real hope of survival is to marry well. Their friend Mrs. Jennings takes them to London to get them married off. Elinor falls quietly in love with Edward Ferrars. Marianne falls robustly in love with John Willoughby, disappointing Colonel Brandon who is in love with Marianne. Of course, none of this goes smoothly. Wouldn’t be much of a story if it did.
The cast includes Marie Glaser (Marianne), Jennifer Blair (Elinor), Evan O’Polka (Edward Ferrars), Jawn Gross (Colonel Brandon), and Domenic DelGreco (Willoughby). Additional cast members include Gretchen Kerr (Mrs. John Dashwood), Teresa Testrake (Mrs. Henry Dashwood), Doris Becker (Mrs. Jennings), Kathleen Cahill (Lucy Steele). Rounding out the cast with various roles are Kristen McCain, Stephen Salchli, Ed Moss, and Christopher Hinchman.
The show is basically excerpts from the book acted out. While there is a story, it’s more implied than acted out. If you have read the book or seen the movie, it’s a little disappointing.
Having said that, Blair gives an excellent performance as the reserved Elinor. Blair is quiet, but you can see her feelings brewing under the surface. She says as much with a look or a movement as she does with her lines. Glaser also puts forth a fine performance. We would have liked to have seen her be just a little more passionate, but given the constraints of the play, she put in all the passion allowable. O’Polka is awkwardly amusing. (This is a compliment. Edward is supposed to be awkward.) Gross and DelGreco also play their characters as they were meant to be played, with charm and politeness. While difficult to make a character really come alive with the setup, we feel that the aforementioned actors did just that. Additionally, Testrake, Becker, and Cahill play their characters as would be expected having read the book or seen the movie.
Sense and Sensibility runs through March 24. For more information and tickets call the Erie Playhouse box office at 814-454-2852 or go online to www.erieplayhouse.org.