“Sense and Sensibility” by Book-It Repertory Theatre

Book-It does Austen again, and does the lady proud. “Sense and Sensibility” is their fourth rendering of a Jane Austen novel, and it’s charming. The audience is immersed in 18th C. drawing rooms, concepts of class, and rules of etiquette. This time it’s the Dashwood sisters who love, lose, and love again.

Oh the difficulties unmarried sisters face when their father’s male heir inherits everything, as is the custom in England. They are forced out of their family home with scarcely enough to provide them a gracious life. The brother’s wretched wife can’t wait to get rid of them after cutting them off financially. With their mother, they bravely set forth. Sensible Elinor and her more quixotic sister Marianne learn some difficult lessons but triumph in the end.

Kjerstine Anderson as Elinor and Jessica Martin as Marianne lead a steller cast. Both actors embody the manners and social codes of their time yet also convey the distinct personality differences of each sister. Be especially aware of Anderson’s eyes; she says as much with them as she does with her mouth. They and the rest of the cast are clothed in lovely costumes by Deane Middleton that cleverly morph into other outfits as demanded by the script.

This is a complicated book with many, many characters connected to one another in various ways. It isn’t an easy task to translate it to the stage, but Jen Taylor’s adaptation is successful. So too is Makaela Pollock’s direction, for the most part. Book-It decided to mount this with audience in front of the stage and at the back of the stage, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite work in this theatre for this play. Ask to sit in front when you buy your tickets.

Through June 26 at Seattle Center House Theatre, Seattle Center. (206 216-0833 or www.book-it.org).

 

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