Sense And Sensibility in Milwaukee

Sense and Sensibility

At The Milwaukee Rep through January 13, 2013


l-r Kate Hurster (Elinor), Laura Gordon (Mrs. Dashwood), Victoria Mack (Marianne)

Victoria here...while Kristine cavorts in Windsor, I am at home, but enjoying a particularly rewarding cultural scene here in Milwaukee.  As you might have noticed, the Milwaukee Art Museum is currently showing Rembrandt, Van Dyke and Gainsborough: Treasures from Kenwood House about which I have written several posts (see 12/20/12, 12/14/12, 10/15/12).

And for theatre-lovers, the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre is currently presenting Sense and Sensibility, adapted from Jane Austen' s 1811 novel by Mark Healy and directed by Art Manke.  All pictures on this post are by Michael Brosilow.





Here is the Rep's promotional "blurb:"

From the author of Pride and Prejudice comes this heartwarming, humorous tale of two sisters struggling to move past a family disaster. Sensible, reserved Elinor and passionate, impulsive Marianne find the road to true love beset with dashing suitors and well-meaning relatives, devoted friends and devious rivals, and scandalous secrets and unexpected twists in a period-perfect adaptation that captures all of the deliciousness, flirtation, and folly of Austen’s well-loved novel.




Mack and Hurster

This is the premiere of Mark Healy's adaptation; he is a well-known actor in the UK (stage: Woman in Black, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, et. al.; television: Ghost Squad, Doctors, Family Affair) and has written several other adaptations for the stage of literary works, including John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman and Austen's Persuasion.

Like many Austen fanatics, I approach anything other than the original novels with some trepidation. As a friend of mine observed, "After all, if you want Austen, read her."  However, again like many Austen fans, I find it impossible to resist television, film and stage versions of the novels...as well as some of the sequels, prequels, etc. so widely in evidence today.

Nevertheless, I liked it very much, as did the near-capacity audience for the performance I attended.  The Rep, by the way, broke all their attendance records with the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice a few years ago.  Healy's version of S and S was remarkably true to the novel although some obvious cuts were necessary.  The sets were effective and the costumes -- well, since I was sitting up close, I could not miss the zippers on the gowns and the less than well-tailored men's jackets.  Had I been farther back, I probably would have loved them for the "look" was excellent.  Suspend disbelief, I tell myself.
 
The only real problem I had was rooted in the novel itself -- the explanations by Col Brandon of the Eliza matter and the confession and mea culpa of Willoughby -- both delivered to the patient Elinor. Neither scene bothers me as I read the words, but both seem long-winded and static on the screen or stage.  No one else, however, seemed to be bothered.



Mack and Hurster as Marianne and Elinor


For more on the Milwaukee Rep's cast and crew and all about the play, click here.

Among the sites suggested for more information is this:
http://www.janeausten.org/
which was new to me.  Where have I been?  I don't know anything about the creators of this site, but perhaps one of our readers can enlighten me.  WHO is janeausten.org?  So far, a mystery.

Anyway, it seems to me that good old Milwaukee is rather the center of late 18th century activities for another two weeks!  And we deserve it!