Archikulture Digest

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

By Jane Austin

Adapted by Jon Jory

Starring Piper Rae Patterson, Lindsay Kyler, John P Keller, Shannon Michael Wamser

Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Orlando FL</strong><P>

Two hundred years ago, there were only two sure ways to make a decent living – inherit land, or marry in to it. This was true for men as well as women: the whole idea of getting a job or starting a factory to exploit the poor was unheard of in British society. Thus the crisis of the Dashwood sisters and their mother (Suzanne O’Donnell): she was the second wife but her departed hubby left everything to his first wife’s son John (Greg Jobert.) John had the vague obligation “to take care of them” and his initial offer of 5000 pounds a years is soon reduced to 50 under the influences of his wife Fanny (Kelly Kilgore). This is equivalent to moving from Isleworth to Holden Heights. Adding insult to penury, the Dashwood’s move into the house the women occupied, rearrange their furniture, insult the linens and take over the good bedrooms. Her distant cousins the Middleton’s take them in and lend them a cottage as their yenta friend Mrs. Jennings (Anne Hering) promises to get Marianne (Patterson) and Elinor (Kyler) married off by New Years.

Beyond this, I’m frankly lost in this byzantine soap opera of a story. Example: Marianne falls for the dashing cad Willoughby while intellectual Elinor (Kyler) dances around tongue tied Edward Ferrars (Keller). He’s secretly engaged to Lucy Steel (Danielle Gosselin) which upset Edward’s mother, she disinherits him, he breaks up with Lucy, and his younger brother Robert (Nathan Sebens) nabs the money and Lucy. Equally convoluted pairing plague Elinor, and a good Infographic would help decode the romances. However, one question hovers over everyone and everything: “How many thousand a year does he have?” It’s a brutal calculus, and one completely at the whims of the person holding the purse strings with no recourse.

If you ignore the story, there’s still some fun in the brittle dialog. Anne Hering is a joyful breeze in her impossibly large bonnets as is bully Mr. John Middleton (Joe Vincent) and the popinjay of Robert Ferrars. Patterson and Kyler were both sincere and attractive, but they see the game they are bound to play and even as flirts they have a calculating undertone. Edward Ferrars is calm and reserved as befits the gravitas of a 35 year old man while Ms. Steele is airheaded and just a touch, well, déclassé. The set is the same luminous and angular space Othello tucked itself into, and I’m beginning to become familiar with the trees in the background. A taste for Jane Austin will help you appreciate this play, but even if you’re a fan I recommend glancing at the Cliff’s notes before drinking too many glasses of Shakes’ best vino.

For more information on Orlando Shakespeare Theater, visit</em>

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