Posts Tagged ‘Everyman Theater Baltimore’

Inquiring readers,

I’ve had the pleasure of viewing the play, Sense and Sensibility, an enjoyable adaptation by Kate Hamill from the Jane Austen novel of that name. It was directed by Susanna Gellert in Everyman Theatre. Ten actors, all professionals and most of whom reside in the Baltimore/Washington area, play all the parts. Except for the actresses who portray Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, the remaining actors take on a variety of roles, as you can read in the image below or in the link to the online program.

List of actors

The venue was intimate and the set simple, fluid, and changeable. A single door, two windows, two tables, and a number of chairs are rolled around the stage on caster wheels, and within a minute or less we are treated to a scene in Norland Park, a journey by carriage (yes) to Barton Cottage or a visit with Mrs Jennings to London, a tete a tete between Mrs Ferrars and Lucy Steele, a confrontation between Fanny Dashwood and the hapless Lucy, Marianne’s illness at the Palmer’s house, etc.

This online program in pdf format provides a synopsis of the play, history of Everyman Theatre and biographies of all those involved in the writing, directing, acting, and production of this play.

Sense and sensibility

The above screen shots are deliberately small so they are heavily pixilated when enlarged and cannot be reproduced, but they will give you a sense of the stage sets. At the far right is the opening scene around Mr Dashwood’s corpse, to its left is the first look Marianne, Mrs Dashwood, Margaret, and Elinor have of Barton Cottage; to its left is a view of the “gossips,” who catch the audience up on much of the plot in London; the third image from the left demonstrates how the actors have moved the furniture to resemble a carriage. The two men at the front are the horses; the final two images at the extreme left show the dance and the double weddings. 

Since the actors are American, there was no pretense of affecting a British accent. Ms. Hamill, for the sake of stagecraft, deviates from Austen’s novel much like Emma Thompson’s script did in 1995’s Sense and Sensibility. Both writers followed Austen’s plot and comedic moments, but as they emphasized her wit they expressed their own humor in different ways, which made my noticing their similarities and differences all the more enjoyable.

Emma Thompson and Kate Hamill were also keenly aware of their modern audiences. Thompson’s characterization of Mr Palmer was hilarious and instantly recognizable; Ms Hamill’s scene of Fanny Dashwood going manic and pummeling Lucy Steele when she discovers that the young woman is engaged to her brother Edward was not only fun to watch, but quite original (and much too short). The actress, Tuet Thi Pham (Fanny/Lucy), tussles with herself, using her body and gymnastic gyrations to demonstrate Fanny attacking a defensive Lucy. Ms Pham speaks/shouts out both roles, while providing the audience with an unforgettable spectacle of a madwoman swinging at flies.

Because the sets in this theatrical production are puritanically stark, precisely lit, and moveable, one must use one’s imagination to “see” the houses/mansions, their interiors, the English countryside, or a visit to London. Someone who is not familiar with Regency customs and manners, or who has not read the novel, might have a hard time following the plot, but I think they will enjoy this thespian take on Austen’s novel nevertheless.

For the dramatic denouement, all the elements of the plot come together. Marianne attempts to reach Willoughby’s estate in the rain, but now lies sick and heartsick (on top of a table that serves as a bed.) Col Brandon, frantic with worry, offers to escort Mrs Dashwood to her daughter. Meanwhile, Willoughby visits the Palmer house, all contrite but self-absorbed. He wants Marianne’s forgiveness. Elinor sees through him, for she knows that he’s a cad who’s impregnated an innocent girl and married a rich woman for gain, and orders him to leave.

Colonel Brandon returns with Mamma Dashwood and all is good, for during her recovery he reads to Marianne in the dramatic manner of which she approves. (Oh, how ‘Sensibility’ of him to be so aware of his beloved’s preferences!). Edward Ferrars visits Barton Cottage to reveal that Lucy married his rich bro Robert and that he’s free to love our Sensible Elinor. She morphs into a puddle of melting pudding before saying yes.

In the next scene we see the company dancing at a ball. The door then opens to a double wedding, after which the casts sings Starlight, a delightful song by Dua Lipa (“All night, come and dance with me; You’re my starlight; I need you; All night; Starlight) which is sung by the cast as they line dance –or dance in line — I couldn’t tell! In this way the production connects again with modern audiences (ie. the young-uns) and the play ends in the most feel good way.

I watched the video link on a beautiful evening with a glass of wine. The reflections on my screen made the production look like it was set in a forest.

Screen Shot 2022-05-13 at 4.58.59 PM

Vic watching Sense and Sensibility.

My neighbor and friend, Peg, wrote this turbo review:

“Saw the production yesterday and thought it was fabulous!  Amazing what they do on that stage with so few props and the cast in several different roles.  I knew the story though had never seen the play or movie and thoroughly enjoyed.”


Everyman Theater-Laura Weiss

Everyman Theatre

The most wonderful result of watching this play is that I discovered Everyman Theatre, a nonprofit theater in downtown Baltimore that seats 253 downstairs in the main auditorium. The theater also boasts a newly renovated space for 210 upstairs for a more intimate theater experience. Both are just the perfect size for me. If I recall, the Firehouse Theater, which I loved attending in Richmond, VA, seated fewer than 80 in the audience.

In addition, Everyman box office also sells a virtual link that one can watch after the live production closes. I was given 48 hours to watch the play after clicking on the link, which gave me an opportunity to take notes for this review and re-watch certain scenes.

Opinion: If this production of Sense & Sensibility comes to a theater near you, I am certain you will like it immensely.

Song at end: Dua Lipa’s Starlight

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