The air is cool and crisp, a nice invitation considering the 102 degree weather outside. “You will be seated in seat number 10,” the friendly usher states with a broad smile. I shuffle down the 2nd Isle in the balcony of the Pamela Brown Theatre, one of 3 theatres located within the Actors Theatre estate.
Yes, I am 20 minutes early to see the 48th season’s first performance of Sense and Sensibility. However, I do not mind because it is cool, quiet, and I am sipping on the sweet tartness of the celebrity cocktail of the evening, “The Dashwood”.
“In this witty comedy of manners, two sisters who are alike only in their pursuit of romance find themselves without fortune, and facing difficult marriage prospects. Will Elinor’s common sense or Marianne’s impulsive passion offer up the key to living “happily ever after”? Austen’s classic tale of flirtation and folly graces Actors Theatre’s stage in a delightful new adaptation by Jon Jory,” I read from my program guide.
The stage area is beautifully lit in shades of blue, gray, and mixing with a tease of filtered red. In the middle stands a colonial-style double door. Behind the door is a large reflective circle, resembling a golden sun.
The lights dim and our play begins.
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen’s first and most beloved novel; is wittingly sewn together. There is a consistent tango of empathy and comic relief. Nancy Lemenager (Elinor) and Helen Sadler (Marianne) skillfully embody the sister’s contrasting personalities.
“This is a story that pits passion against rationality,” says John Jory, adapter and director. “These two facets of human nature are commingled in every personality, but in varying proportions. Jane Austen had great affection for passion, but she knew that in order to live a life not constantly endangered by excesses of passion, one needs common sense.”
So I observe the unwinding of these two sisters coping with their circumstances, searching for love within or beyond their means. Each character seems to carry their own identity about themselves. One of my favorites, Sir John Middleton (wellfully played by David Pichette) has a character full of excitable energy. I look around. The crowd looks anxious, anticipating him in wonderment. Almost all of us in the back rows are seated forward to appease our curiosity. And I… watch in amusement even through the lingering hair follicles of the man slouching in front of me.
The story ends with the bowing of characters to a full standing ovation; a clear statement of satisfaction of the night’s performance. I gracefully shimmy out of my aisle and follow the chattery crowd down the carpeted stairs into the gallery area. As I make my way around the art displays under the ornate lobby dome, I can only think of the quirkiness of love.
“Love: the byproduct and/or the means of any intentional action that we take,” I conclude.
I ride the elevator to the 3rd level to return to my car. While opening the door, I am greeted by the night’s lingering humidity and a smell that only a car garage can emit. I smile. “It was a good night,” I think to myself.
“In the end only love is worth writing about, the rest is simply a matter of detail.” –Jane Austen
*Sense and Sensibility will be playing at the Actors Theatre through Sept. 24th. For more info on The Actors Theatre visit:www.actorstheatre.org
**This article is featured on City Concierge Louisville.