Review: Sense and Sensibility at City Theatre

They’re just jealous of her regal dress.

They’re just jealous of her regal dress.

Photo courtesy of City Theatre

Showtimes: Fri 7:30pm, Sat 7:30pm, Sun 2pm, Sat March 17 at 2pm. Through March 18; $15-$18; Sacramento City College Performing Arts Center, 3835 Freeport Boulevard; (916) 558-2228;
Rated 4.0

Jane Austen probably never imagined that her novels (four published during her lifetime and two published posthumously) would be turned into stage or movie projects. It would be interesting to get her reaction to such theatrical productions as City Theatre’s Sense and Sensibility.

The theatre group, composed of student and community actors, takes a bookish approach to Austen’s first published novel, staging the action upon a huge open book that is the floor of the stage. Scenic designer Shawn Weinseink delivers a perfect setting for the play, adapted by Jennifer Lee Taylor in the “Book-It Style,” which adapts literature for the stage, preserving the narrative text as spoken dialogue by the characters. It’s surprisingly effective.

This is the story of the Dashwood family—sisters Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, and their mother—women who, for better or worse (mostly worse), are dependent upon marriage to confer social standing and financial security. Hard times hit with the death of the Dashwood patriarch, and the plot illustrates the pressing need to find another man to depend upon.

With a large and enthusiastic cast, the play mostly gets the accents right, although delivery is sometimes rushed and without a feel for the words. More of the cast spoke distinctly and in the natural rhythm, such as Dafydd Wynne (playing Edward Ferrars), Jonathan Plon (Col. Brandon) and Kim McCann-Lawson (Mrs. Jennings).