Expect the version of Sense and Sensibility soon to be onstage at The Court Theatre to be infused with f-words of the best kind – fun, feminist and female.
Written by well-known comedian, actor and writer Penny Ashton, and directed by regular Court actor and choreographer Hillary Moulder, this brand-new adaptation of the Jane Austen classic is a joyous retelling that will appeal to Austen purists and novices alike. “It’s not just ‘cups of tea’ Austen,’ which some people may wrongly assume” says Moulder. “It is six ambitious Georgian women bringing Austen to life, in every sense of the word.”
A story balancing romance and reason and filled with wry and witty observations that transcend time and place, Ashton chose this classic to adapt because of “its eloquence, romance and hilarious spinster shade.”
Sense and Sensibility follows passionate, emotional Marianne and practical, steady Elinor Dashwood as they balance sensible behaviour and sensitivity, life and love, under society’s razor-sharp eye - and tongue. Fans of Ashton’s work will know of her love for the classics and her genius in remodelling them, but her take on Sense and Sensibility is no parody. It is a loving reimagining of the novel’s story, cleverness and blushes in a homage to the force of women, most especially Austen.
Ashton’s adaptation is a whirlwind journey of romance and sisterhood that also celebrates the female force and power within the story and characters. Ashton wrote the play to be performed entirely by women, saying “I choose women to celebrate Austen, who was denied so much because she was one.”
Moulder - making her mainstage directorial debut with Sense and Sensibility - is equally as enthusiastic and passionate, saying “Women are in full control of this production” (all the cast and most of the crew are female) and the energy in the room is wondrous. This is a celebration of women, Austen and the importance of family, love and joy amidst hard times - and that’s something we can all relate to.” Audiences should expect “a fast paced, clever, hilarious, heightened adaptation of Austen at its best!”
Moulder has assembled six multitalented women who will play 23 characters and perform set changes (there are over a dozen locations in the play) whilst moving through multiple quick-change costumes. The cast, supported by understudies, features well-known Court actors Eilish Moran and Kathleen Burns (currently finishing the summer season of RENT) as well as actors Natasha McAllister, Rebekah Head, Bianca Paine and Kim Garrett.
A grand yet intimate stage has been designed as a series of flat pieces which can effectively slot in out and out, with some subtle, impressive and delightful changes evoking the multiple scenes in which the story is set. The stage will also thrust forward as much as possible to create the sense of intimacy which is at the heart of Sense and Sensibility and also in a nod to the style of theatre of the Georgian era, when the novel was written.
True love is guaranteed to not run smoothly, but will it conquer all, or will reason reign supreme?
“A widowed mother trying to provide for her family of girls, faced with a wage gap and respiratory infections, all in a time of extreme housing uncertainty? 1811 starts to look a lot like 2023!” – Penny Ashton, Writer.
Sense and Sensibility runs at The Court Theatre from 11 February – 11 March 2023