Jane Austen’s novels don’t appeal to me greatly, but the quality of her wit is superb. Although Sense and Sensibilityis not a novel that readily lends itself to a dramatic adaptation, Canberra’s own Jodi McAlister has done a fine job of condensing Austen’s story into two hours of engaging stagework.
One of the most memorable characteristics of Austen’s work is the importance of the subtext, and the many paradoxes that are inherent in such a context. Drama, of course, thrives on paradox and subtext, but the sheer volume of these found in Austen’s work has been the downfall of many dramatisations of her stories. In this production, I think both Jodi McAlister and Liz Bradley are to be commended for their work in focusing the attention and keeping the journey of the characters paramount.
A great performance by the cast was punctuated by three stellar performers in the roles of the three Dashwood sisters. Alex de Totth, Ylaria Rogers and Nicola Grear are most notable in the degree to which they are able to balance the humour of their roles with the truth of their characters’ experiences. This is critical to Austen’s stories, and the success of this production owes much to these three performers.
I have never been a great fan of Austen, but have always enjoyed the quality and intensity of her satire, and am very pleased that this production managed to express it so well.