Langham Court Theatre presents Sense and Sensibility: Jane Austen’s classic dramatic comedy adapted by Kate Hamill and running from Feb. 28 to March 17.
Austen’s well-beloved and frequently adapted novel gets a high-energy reinterpretation with Langham’s upcoming production.
In Hamill’s playful, fast-paced, innovative version the production follows the adventures (and misadventures) of the Dashwood sisters: sensible Elinor and hypersensitive Marianne, as well as their recently-widowed mother and younger sister Margaret, after their father’s sudden death leaves them financially destitute and socially vulnerable.
Bursting with humour, emotion, and bold theatricality, Sense and Sensibility presents broad, enjoyable and zany comedy, with strong tendrils of insightful societal observation and commentary.
Hamill’s 2014 theatrical adaptation, which opened Off-Broadway in 2016, offers a heightened comedic texture and buoyancy to Austen’s 1811 novel. While still set in the gossipy, socially structured environment of late 18th-century England, the refreshing modernization of this piece comes from the inventive physicality of the performers and the briskness of the dialogue. Directors Keith Digby and Cynthia Pronick are staying true to the original heavily physical style of Hamill’s adaptation, while finding their own colours and flavours in the script, with room of course for input from the performers and fellow creative team.
As movement consultant Sylvia Hosie explains, “All the furniture pieces have wheels and they whiz everywhere. Sometimes actors are pushed on while sitting in their chairs, props are tossed and gossips are everywhere. In addition to becoming set pieces, the actors also have to become trees, dogs, even the storm.”
While this production has an unconventional, multifaceted use of movement involving the performers in conjunction with movable set pieces, Hosie notes that there are nonetheless traditional period-specific dance moments such as a ball scene.
While this version maintains accurate dialogue and costumes from the late 1700’s, the exuberant use of movement gives the piece an updated, frenetic, and at times purposefully chaotic atmosphere. Similarly, the clever writing contributes to the revitalized feeling of the work.
The combination of this efficient and quick-paced writing that Mitchell alludes to, with the use of characters in multiple fluid roles, adds a sense of excitement and vigour which work to develop the story in a sharp and effective manner.
Tickets are available at langhamtheatre.ca.