Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sense & Sensibility ****

Bedlam is a theater group that presents “creative reappraisals of the classics.” Their bracing version of Jane Austen’s first novel is now playing at The Gym at Judson. Kate Hamill’s ingenious adaptation offers sheer delight with its creative stagecraft, lively exuberance, clever storytelling and fine acting. The talented cast of ten, some doubling and even tripling roles, vividly bring Austen’s characters to life. Andrus Nichols has the right gravitas for Elinor Dashwood and Hamill is appropriately overwrought as her sister Marianne. Jason O’Connell as both Edward Ferrars and his brother Robert, John Russell as John Willoughby and Edmund Lewis as Colonel Brandon are all fine. The other actors (Laura Baranik, Samantha Steinmetz, Jessica Frey, Stephan Wolfert and Gabra Zackman) are equally able. One clever scene has two actors simultaneously portraying two pairs of sisters. John McDermott’s set features four full-length windows, a door frame, a sofa, a few tables and numerous chairs, all mounted on casters that allow them to be moved around the stage by the actors with near-dizzying speed. Angela Huff’s period costumes, hidden below modern clothes at the opening, fit in with the spirit of the production. Director Eric Tucker deftly keeps everything under control. It all makes for a very enjoyable experience. Running time: 2 1/2 hours including intermission. NOTE: The show is going on a two-month hiatus soon but will reopen in mid-June and run through September. For information see bedlam.org.

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