August 7, 2016
About the author : Project manager by day, crazy cat lady by night. Emily's first love is J.R.R. Tolkien. She's also into Walking Dead, video games, Doctor Who, and anime. When she isn't knee-deep in her latest fandom, she's usually sleeping.
San Diego is lucky enough to have Sense and Sensibility the musical at its Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. Amelia and I love Emma (by the same writer) when it came out about five years ago, so we were thrilled when we heard about Sense and Sensibility. We were not disappointed.
It’s always fascinating to see different writers and directors interpret the same source material. One of the unique elements of this production was its focus on Elinor’s and Marianne’s relationship. Neither their mother nor their younger sister Margaret is in this version of the story–which makes some of the events all the more poignant.
Everything about this production of Sense and Sensibility is gorgeous, from the costumes to the set. The subtle differences between Norland, the Dashwoods’ cottage, and the other locations were fascinating. The scenes with Marianne in the rain were so well-done–I was waiting to feel drops of water on my face.
The costumes were perfectly chosen. Each outfit, in addition to being beautiful, was a reflection of the character. Marianne always wore bright, elaborate gowns while Elinor wore simpler dresses–a perfect portrayal of sense and sensibility. Colonel Brandon’s jacket was impeccable while Edward’s was a little bit in disarray. And Willoughby had a ridiculous scarlet cloak.
The music was both moving and emotional. For example, Colonel Brandon’s refrain, “on the wrong side of five-and-thirty” was enough to make you laugh and cry at the same time.
The actors were wonderful–they all fit into their roles perfectly. Elinor was my favorite. Not only does she look like a Disney princess (as Amelia commented), but she displayed a blend of love, calm, emotion, and strength that was beautiful to behold.
Edward was delightfully awkward. One of my favorite scenes in the play was when we went to visit Elinor, not knowing that Lucy Steele was already there. Half of his songs were his own thoughts, which none of the other characters could hear.
By the end of the play, Willoughby elicits nearly as much sympathy as any other character in the story. He admits to his wrongdoing and tells Elinor that he did truly love Marianne. This has nothing to do with him being a sympathetic character, but he had way too much fun flinging his cloak around at every possible opportunity.
Marianne is much sassier than she’s usually portrayed, which I loved. To call her the comedic relief of the play is wrong, but she certainly delivers more humorous lines than any other character. The contrast between her childish insistence of wearing her heart on her sleeve and Elinor’s reserve is much stronger in this production, which I loved.
On of my favorite elements of the play was the relationship between Marianne and Colonel Brandon. You see his despair of winning her heart from the beginning, and yet that never prevents him from serving her in any way he can. After she recovers from her illness, you can see Marianne realize what she’s been missing. As she truly sees Colonel Brandon for the first time, she understands that he has always put her first–while Willoughby put himself before everyone else.
This was a wonderful re-telling of Sense and Sensiblity. Not only does it highight the emotion and drama of the story, but it also teases out some of the wit and comedy that makes Jane Austen so popular even today.
Overall, the only flaw in this production is that Alan Rickman wasn’t in it. *sobs*