This review by Sandy Staggs was originally published on November 28th, 2021.
The Warehouse Theatre follows up the successful encore run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch with a regal and witty affair about women and their means and men, Jane Austin’s, Sense and Sensibility now on stage through December 19.
Gone is the cluttered collection of organized chaos of a flood in the theatre’s basement that provided endless fodder for Clay Smith and Miranda Burnett in the Hedwig rock show that is likely the company’s longest standing set due to Covid shutting down the production midstream.
Instead, the seating is on the opposite side and the “stage” – a gorgeous, meticulously painted “inlaid marble” floor – flanked by expensive fabric from ballast to floor in a roman shade-ques design (Michael J. Riha) with wonders waiting for you.
Giving the same sardonic, semi-farcical treatment and update as she did for The Warehouse’s 2019 hit Pride and Prejudice, Kate Hamill goes for the jugular and electrifies the modern relevance for a novel that is over 200 years old.
Utilizing only a handful of furniture pieces like benches, director Kerrie Seymour has crafted a rollicking, witty, and beautifully-staged rendition of this timeless tale of two sisters and their quest to survive and thrive in a man’s world….
The Warehouse never compromises on production quality, and Sense and Sensibility is pure eye candy- the set is posh in its simplicity and polished in execution. And the cast looks incredible in the splendor of Margaret Rose Caterisan’s impeccable, pristine period dresses and coattails and hats. Hats off to her special modern touch on the costumes for the Gossips, a Greek chorus that constantly comments and updates us on the proceedings.
Brittany Pirozzoli poignantly and playfully portrays “sense,” 19-year-old Elinor, the level-headed woman in the family, while the brilliant Clare Ruble is the whimsical 16-year-old Marianne, who is ruled by her sensibility, her passion for life and in her heart.
Both women, and 13-year-old sister Marianne (the delightful Katherine Cannon), and mother (Aaron Ballard) are left homeless after the patriarch passes and leaves the estate to the male heir John (the always incredible Matt Reece who is delicious in several roles here) and his greedy wife Fanny (played by Christina Rose Yasi as her most dubious) as she whittles away the ladies’ financial well-being through cunning justification.
It’s a fine line between wealth and poverty in Sense and Sensibility, with nearly every character seeking a dowry or fortune of guaranteed their own self-interest, with few male characters escaping the wrath of non-redemption.
Most of the actors have double or triple duty, but here are my favorites: Claire Richardson shines in the gender-bending role of John Willoughby; Elizabeth Colson as the gregarious Mrs. Jennings, Aaron Brakefield as the dashing Colonel Brandon, and Guillermo Jemmott, Jr. as Edward Ferrars, one of several deceitful men.
Light and sound design is by Kevin Frazier and Stage Manager is Jaime Keegstra.