Director Helen Tennison’s take on an adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘old’ story about two polarised sisters and their different views on life is a refreshing production. She keeps the original plot and setting without coming close to being old fashioned. The everyday issues the 18th century sisters face are timeless. For who cannot relate to loving and losing, being sensible, sensitive or all the above.
Brave-hearted, curly haired Marianne is greatly played as she loses herself completely into her senses. The tidily pretty Elinor’s suppressed emotions and sensible nature is spot-on as she takes on the grown-up role of the sisters. Another memorable contribution comes from side-kick character Aunt Jenning. A strong, busty and over-dramatic woman who brings great humor to the play.
The economic downsizing the sisters are facing due to the death of their father sets the play off and the funeral is already going as the audience enters the theatre. This is a budget production but unlike what one might expect, the small venue, few extras and lack of pretentious costume changes does nothing but enhances the experience.
The stage’s grey batik-fabric like stone walls add to the charm. The lighting is simple but gives the desired effects as it plays an important part amongst the scarce but detailed and timely props.
The Rosemary Branch theatre hosts an intimate setting which lets the audience so close they can almost touch the passion amongst the bickering sisters and their lovers. It makes for a show that is vulnerable and authentic and it allows you to see the facial expressions that characterises the vivid personalities. If for nothing else, see this show to witness how the chemistry between and Elinor and her Ed sparks the stage.