4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Fly-on-the-wall invasion

Sense and Sensibility at Old Globe Theatre

Elinor cold, reserved, and Classical; Marianne ebullient, expressive, and Romantic
Elinor cold, reserved, and Classical; Marianne ebullient, expressive, and Romantic

Ardent lovers of Jane Austen’s novels are in for a shock when they arrive for the Old Globe’s Sense and Sensibility. They won’t see the fog-shrouded southeastern coast of Sussex or the milder clime of Devon or the 260 miles, as the crow flies, in between.

Sense and Sensibility

Instead, a gigantic spiral-swoosh hovers over the stage like a falling ribbon. And the stage itself has three levels of blue circles, like stacks of mammoth poker chips, where stand small clusters of period (1792–1797) furniture.

Though off-putting at the start, the abstract design mostly works. Donald Holder’s expert lighting and flown-in drops convert the aerial sculpture into a staircase, a window, and a roaring sunset, among others. And the Globe’s co-production with Chicago Shakespeare Theater mostly works as well, though it edges toward toned-down sameness.

Nineteen-year-old Elinor Dashwood is all sense. She’s packed her feelings in coffers of restraint. Younger sister Marianne is all sensibility. Rational thought can’t invade her world.

In Austen’s symmetrical coupling, each sister must incorporate, and thus defuse, the other’s excess: Elinor cold, reserved, and Classical; Marianne ebullient, expressive, and Romantic.

Seen through the eyes of Austen’s largely upper-class readers, Marianne’s a fanatic (she has an ardent love of Lord Byron, for mercy’s sake!), while Elinor is pretty much the social norm. But Austen subtly critiques those who, like Elinor, cling to propriety and convenience at the expense of the heart.

The death of their father might put the Dashwood sisters in dire economic straits. Their brother John’s wife Fanny would love to snatch their inheritance and “release them from the burden of wealth and prosperity.” So they must wend their respective ways, in life and in love.

“How,” asks Marianne, “will we endure each other when we have no income?”

The Globe/Chicago Shakespeare co-production offers competent, but not spectacular, voices. As a result, many of the songs in Paul Gordon’s score sound similar in melody and approach: variations on a narrow theme. This may be deference to Austen’s brilliant intimacy (in her novels you are literally the fly on the wall, in a home you’d never enter otherwise). But the music runs together, especially in Act Two, where the composer has a number for almost every conceivable occasion.

If theater has a fourth wall, converting novels into plays should have one, too. The performances, especially Sharon Rietkerk (Elinor) and Megan McGinnis (Marianne) are competent. Some, however, break Austen’s stylistic wall and make broad choices for easy laughs: Paula Scrofano’s Mrs. Jennings, for one, and Jill Van Velzer’s Fanny Dashwood — a Wicked Witch of the Shire — for another (and when she chases a character off the stage with a pair of scissors, fans of Jane Austen might want to reach for a pair of their own).

The often entertaining production uses these timeworn comedic bits as shorthand to label the characters. But they’re too cartoony for the style and verbal subtleties of the novel. The actors perform as if aware of an audience in the house. Austen’s people would be appalled to know someone’s watching. Not to mention outsiders making it past their gates.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Reader editor Matt Lickona welcomes first child

Pregnancy, circumcision, Waugh vs. Updike on sex, Normal Heights house, snot boy, boys and guns
Next Article

Reader editor Matt Lickona welcomes first child

Pregnancy, circumcision, Waugh vs. Updike on sex, Normal Heights house, snot boy, boys and guns
Elinor cold, reserved, and Classical; Marianne ebullient, expressive, and Romantic
Elinor cold, reserved, and Classical; Marianne ebullient, expressive, and Romantic

Ardent lovers of Jane Austen’s novels are in for a shock when they arrive for the Old Globe’s Sense and Sensibility. They won’t see the fog-shrouded southeastern coast of Sussex or the milder clime of Devon or the 260 miles, as the crow flies, in between.

Sense and Sensibility

Instead, a gigantic spiral-swoosh hovers over the stage like a falling ribbon. And the stage itself has three levels of blue circles, like stacks of mammoth poker chips, where stand small clusters of period (1792–1797) furniture.

Though off-putting at the start, the abstract design mostly works. Donald Holder’s expert lighting and flown-in drops convert the aerial sculpture into a staircase, a window, and a roaring sunset, among others. And the Globe’s co-production with Chicago Shakespeare Theater mostly works as well, though it edges toward toned-down sameness.

Nineteen-year-old Elinor Dashwood is all sense. She’s packed her feelings in coffers of restraint. Younger sister Marianne is all sensibility. Rational thought can’t invade her world.

In Austen’s symmetrical coupling, each sister must incorporate, and thus defuse, the other’s excess: Elinor cold, reserved, and Classical; Marianne ebullient, expressive, and Romantic.

Seen through the eyes of Austen’s largely upper-class readers, Marianne’s a fanatic (she has an ardent love of Lord Byron, for mercy’s sake!), while Elinor is pretty much the social norm. But Austen subtly critiques those who, like Elinor, cling to propriety and convenience at the expense of the heart.

The death of their father might put the Dashwood sisters in dire economic straits. Their brother John’s wife Fanny would love to snatch their inheritance and “release them from the burden of wealth and prosperity.” So they must wend their respective ways, in life and in love.

“How,” asks Marianne, “will we endure each other when we have no income?”

The Globe/Chicago Shakespeare co-production offers competent, but not spectacular, voices. As a result, many of the songs in Paul Gordon’s score sound similar in melody and approach: variations on a narrow theme. This may be deference to Austen’s brilliant intimacy (in her novels you are literally the fly on the wall, in a home you’d never enter otherwise). But the music runs together, especially in Act Two, where the composer has a number for almost every conceivable occasion.

If theater has a fourth wall, converting novels into plays should have one, too. The performances, especially Sharon Rietkerk (Elinor) and Megan McGinnis (Marianne) are competent. Some, however, break Austen’s stylistic wall and make broad choices for easy laughs: Paula Scrofano’s Mrs. Jennings, for one, and Jill Van Velzer’s Fanny Dashwood — a Wicked Witch of the Shire — for another (and when she chases a character off the stage with a pair of scissors, fans of Jane Austen might want to reach for a pair of their own).

The often entertaining production uses these timeworn comedic bits as shorthand to label the characters. But they’re too cartoony for the style and verbal subtleties of the novel. The actors perform as if aware of an audience in the house. Austen’s people would be appalled to know someone’s watching. Not to mention outsiders making it past their gates.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

San Diego aggressive rollerbladers return in strength

Big Wheels invade Balboa Park, Liberty Station
Next Article

The masterful Meistersinger singers

The best six hours I've spent in an opera house
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close