A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be able to watch Sense and Sensibility being performed on stage at the Oxford Playhouse. I went with my mum and we had a lovely afternoon and evening shopping, eating, and drinking before we headed to the theatre.
We ate at one of my absolute favourite places, Thaikhun. They do amazing Thai food in an eclectically decorated space, and it all makes for a unique experience. They have unusual cocktails and serve their water in metal cups, and all of the food is great quality. Highly recommended, and clearly high in demand – we could only get a table for 5.45pm when we booked mid-afternoon on Friday!
We had a drink after dinner and then headed to the theatre. Our seats were actually really excellent, we were in row G, so not far from the front, but right on the end. The Playhouse is quite small so there’s no aisle down the middle, meaning an end seat turned out to be a good choice. The place was pretty packed, although I was almost definitely the youngest person there!
Having only read the book partially quite a few years ago, I had an idea of what to expect and who the characters were, but wasn’t really sure exactly what happened and how things ended. This made for perfect viewing. I already knew who everyone was meant to be, but was still left in suspense and looking forward to finding out how the story progressed.
The actors themselves were, I thought, really excellent. Marianne was portrayed, as in the novel, as over emotional and dramatic, very loud and ‘improper’ for the setting. Elinor was fairly prim and proper, but not in a pompous way, such that the audience was still rooting for her. The sisters’ brother’s wife, Fanny Dashwood, was truly fantastic. The actress made excellent use of facial expressions and acted suitably stuck-up and unloveable, in what came across as a very comical way. Another comical element was introduced in youngest sister Margaret, who was portrayed as being very outgoing, immature, and obsessed with wildlife. Basically, an average child, but not how one expects an Austen character to be brought to life. Nevertheless, it added a brilliant comedy element to what can otherwise be a fairly flat storyline.
The set was very basic, but it didn’t need to be any more elaborate. A slight change of props coinciding with a change of location was enough to distinguish the move, and the simplicity of the set added to the importance and effectiveness of the acting. For me, it was truly enjoyable show. I couldn’t wait to find out how it ended, I enjoyed every minute, and of course I was rooting for Edward and Elinor the whole way through (Miss Lucy Steele being suitably annoying and therefore no competition for Elinor).
I would recommend going to see this, but it’s run in Oxford is now over and I don’t know where this is next being performed, if it is. Regardless, I’m extremely glad that I randomly booked tickets for this 5 months in advance, and that I actually remembered I had said tickets and turned up on the right night! A fabulously performed and adapted play, that does justice to the one and only Austen original.