Thursday, July 3, 2014

The 2014 Utah Shakespeare Festival: Review of Sense and Sensibility

Background Info:
I visited the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City during the preview week of its 2014 season, watching the second preview show for each of the six plays.  I will be posting my reviews all week on this blog.  I will link my reviews as they become public.
A Comedy of Errors 6/29/14
12th Night 6/30/14
Henry IV Part One  on 7/1/24
Measure For Measure on 7/2/14
Into The Woods on 7/4/14
Why go to the Utah Shakespeare Festival on 7/5/14
Unless otherwise noted, all photos used will be from the festival website,  Also, all information regarding tickets, seminars, tours, and classes for college credit is available there.

Remember to click on all photos in this post to enlarge them.

I didn't think I was going to like Sense and Sensibility.  Really, it's a novel, never meant to be a play.  And it's loooong -- way too long to be anything but some kind of mini-series on PBS or the BBC.  Plus, I hadn't exactly been blown off my seat by the version of Pride and Prejudice that the Utah Shakespeare Festival did a few years ago.
However, this was really very good.
Apparently, I was among the second-ever audience to see this show, as it was written specifically for this festival this year.  That's kind of cool.
I expected proper Britishness -- and I got it.  Elinor and Marianne are exactly what you'd expect; Marianne was played as a very convincing drama queen of a teenager.  :)  Sam Ashdown played the slimy, hypocritical Willoughby very effectively.
But there was humor as well, and humor in Austen doesn't always end up in performances; movies and TV versions of her books always end up so hopelessly stuffy.
Never fear!  This version has a hilarious Edward, played by the incredible comic actor Quinn Mattfeld.
He was simply THE most awkward and funny leading man anyone could ever wish.
And Mrs. Jennings and her daughter Charlotte were awesome!  Devonshire accents, tons of little lines.... oh, I could definitely watch these two again!

Yes, Austen's novel had to be simplified to fit the time constraints.  No, there's no Alan Rickman in this version. No, this is not Shakespeare.  But I'd still say it's a keeper.  It was possibly the most lighthearted Austen ever.

(Left: Quinn Mattfeld and Center: Bri Sudia, who plays Charlotte, at an actors' seminar on 6/28/14.)

If you like Austen, or if you want a light love story, or if you are looking for something other than Shakespeare, this is a good choice.  The acting is excellent; there are really no weak spots at all.
Don't miss it.

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