When their father dies unexpectedly, the future seems bleak for the Dashwood sisters of Norland Park, as their older half-brother inherits the estate, and they are impoverished. Spineless brother John and his haughty, stingy wife, Fanny, establish themselves immediately after the funeral, leaving Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters as unwelcome guests in their own home. A silver lining emerges when Fanny’s kind, mild-mannered brother, Edward Ferrars, comes for a visit, and develops a friendship with sensible eldest sister, Elinor… is it merely esteem and admiration, or something more? Sensitive, emotional middle sister Marianne is sure that Edward is passionately in love, but cautious Elinor takes nothing for granted. The Dashwoods move to their new home, a cottage on the estate of cousin Sir John Middleton, before the romantic potential can be realized. Once established in rural Devonshire, Marianne acquires two suitors of her own: Colonel Brandon, whose age and quietly melancholy disposition leave her cold, and John Willoughby, a handsome, dashing man, passionately fond of poetry, who rescues her from a rainy ramble gone awry. Eagerly giving her heart to Willoughby, Marianne does not bother to hide her preference, scorning the strictures of convention and the scoldings of her elder sister that she should modify her behavior or risk damaging her reputation. When Willoughby leaves without warning or promise, cutting off all contact, and is discovered to have married a wealthy heiress, Marianne’s heartbreak endangers her health and exposes her to the ridicule of society. And when Elinor discovers that Edward is secretly engaged to manipulative fortune-hunter Lucy Steele, her own hopes for happiness are dashed. Supported by their love for each other, the Dashwood sisters must navigate the delicate rules of Regency society, and question their own fixed characters and beliefs, before they can arrive at not-quite-fairytale happy endings. The spectacular comedic characters, unforgettable relationships, and emotional truths of Jane Austen’s classic novel are brought to life in Kate Hamill’s brilliantly funny, fast-paced stage adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, which utilizes a chorus of lively Gossips to enhance the sense of a socially stifling world, and encourages inventive choreography, bold characterization, and creative doubling to produce a fresh take on a well-beloved story.
Note: Playwright Hamill encourages an ensemble of creatively double-cast actors, but sets no rules on cast size or which characters should double with which, other than that the actors playing Elinor and Marianne should not be doubled.
Sense and Sensibility guide sections