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Sense and Sensibility
Adapted by Jessica Swale
The Mitre Theatre, Croydon
October 2015
Directed by Di Jones

 

Download a .pdf of the programme HERE

View Marcus Ascott's show pictures HERE

 

Below is Theo Spring's unpublished review, intended for The Croydon Advertiser.

 

Director Di Jones and her stellar cast certainly brought this Jane Austen tale of love’s tricky path to vibrant life. In this adaption by Jessica Swale, Austen’s characters retain their ethos, providing a gamut of types both meek, vivacious, honourable and dishonourable, loud but well-meaning and loud and overbearing.


A clever set designed by Chris Raper allowed areas to become a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces and Anna Warnock’s costumes added much to help secure the era.


Falling on hard times, Mrs Dashwood and her three daughters all react very differently to their move from the elegant Norland estate to a seaside cottage. Julia Ascott showed her love for and pride in her daughters as Mama, whilst her three girls each revealed very different personalities. As Elinor, whose poignant but possibly unrequited love is the mainstay of the tale, Tamsin Reeve embodied Elinor’s gentle fortitude for her own hopes and dreams whilst supporting her family with wisdom. In contrast, Megan Brown, as the artistic Marianne personified an impetuous temperament, leading her heart and her reputation into danger. As the third and younger sister Margaret, Anastasia Basharine-Freshville made an extraordinary acting debut, playing much younger than her age, but who could have guessed? As their outrageously materialistic aunt, Fanny Dashwood, Julia Gibbs went to town on hauteur and meanness, taking over the family’s Norland home without a second thought and pinning Ian Brown as her husband, right under her thumb. Also playing Mr Palmer, Ian Brown rejoiced in a second harridan as a wife as Mr Palmer. Both characters played to very comic effect. Tonia Porter as Mrs Palmer brought more comedy with her controlling influence over her husband.


The masculine love interest was equally diverse with Jamie Heath as the ardent but caddish Mr Willoughby and Neil O’Gorman the staunch faithful Colonel Brandon. With Paul Bowles making him dashing yet reserved, it is Edward Ferrars to whom Elinor is attached, with the pair providing the final twist in this tale of loves lost and found.


Helen Harries-Rees bubbled through the production as the delightfully over-the-top Mrs Jennings and very good support came from the smaller roles be they upper crust or servants.


With so many different scenes and a large cast, the fluidity created deserves much praise for all concerned in the production, with a special mention for the large team of scene-shifters who helped achieve this flow.