Theatre Review - Sense & Sensibility, Theatre by the Lake
- Credit: Archant
What a sumptuous romp is this adaptation by Jessica Swale of the classic Jane Austen novel. Ken Powell reports.
Theatre by the Lake (TBTL) is now running one of the final productions of their summer season and have ‘gone for glory’ with this huge production of Sense & Sensibility featuring every cast member of the season.
Jane Austen, I’ll admit, is not my first choice of novelist I’m keen to see adapted for the stage. I’ve read almost all of her books and recall enjoying them but I did so decades ago and never felt much of an urge to go back to them. I wasn’t expecting a production which would overly impress me. The days of enjoying stories of wealthy women getting all melodramatic over loves and losses of handsome, wealthy men really doesn’t do it for me to be honest. I went to TBTL assuming I’d be a little bit bored, but I really should know better by now.
Jessica Swale’s adaptation caught the sparkle and wit of Austen’s characters perfectly with an almost Oscar Wildean flair. Christine Entwistle’s portrayals of both the evil Mrs Dashwood and outrageous Mrs Jennings are hilarious and likewise James Duke proved himself comedy master par excellence yet again. The production isn’t billed as a comedy but there were moments which had the audience howling and overall this was a light and highly enjoyable show with every scene a delight.
Even the storyline itself I realised isn’t simply a bourgeois melodrama. Three sisters and their mother find themselves effectively penniless after the death of their father and husband, thrown out of their home by unscrupulous relatives and having to make do on the generosity of others. Austen’s story tells us that good people turn up everywhere (even if they are rather odd at times!) and that sometimes we need to grow up and realise that not everything that glitters is gold and vice versa. It’s really quite feminist in outlook for the time and certainly realist.
‘Sense & Sensibility’ is the showpiece which demonstrates the incredible strength of this year’s company at TBTL. Having watched Sarah Kempton, Alice Imelda, Lydea Perkins and the aforementioned Christine Entwistle in ‘Bold Girls’ recently, you could not ask for a production which is more of a contrast. The actors are superb in every way in both plays. It is this one, however, which will appeal to most. The production is certainly a rival to ‘Jeeves & Wooster’, which is easily one of the funniest things you can go see anywhere in the north at the moment, and I wouldn’t like to tell you which is better - just go and see both!
‘Sense & Sensibility’ runs in the Main House until Friday 26 October. For more information on the production visit theatrebythelake.com. To book, call Box Office on 017687 74411.