Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility provides the source for the hilarious, entertainment, Sense and Sensibility, in a sassy theatrical production at the Gym at Judson. The gossipy world of Austen's 18th century English shires is fraught with shrewd news of who will be engaged to whom, scandal aside, and most important, at what level of financial means with chatter funnier and wiser by far than any Kardashian take on their social scene.
Janeites, as Austen fans are known, will be particularly pleased to follow the noise of voices over voices parsing the plight of the Dashwood daughters who will have some trouble wedding, as they must downsize to a cottage as a result of their father's death. As performed by Kelley Curran, Kate Hamill, and Violeta Picayo on the evening I saw the production, the young women make for lovely, worthy wives for any man, particularly rich ones, who must earn the right to be worthy of them.
Wittily adapted by Kate Hamill and under Eric Tucker's fine direction, the play starts with the company dancing to Pharrell Williams' Happy in contemporary dress before stripping down to period attire for formal cotillion dance moves. The staging is anything but formal with actors quite literally on wheels, tossing one another along stage lengthwise, swinging chandeliers, creating visions of lovers on a journey with actors stomping hooves on the ground. Yes, bedlam, in short.
Truly this ensemble is superb, but a few of the actors had me laughing so hard, I must mention them: Stephan Wolfert, once he dons his wig, puts on an unforgettable torqued face; Laura Baranik as the mean-spirited Fanny Dashwood wears her hypocrisy in her upturned nose; and Nicole Lewis' Mrs. Jennings, well, she is simply a yenta of first order. No wonder this unique production has been extended.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.