ISU Theatre’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’ energizes the literary classic

Olivia Griffith as Elinor Dashwood (left) and Erin Stein as Lucy Steele (right) get into character during the dress rehearsal of Sense and Sensibility on Feb. 20. Sense and Sensibility is a play filled with humor and emotional depth as the story follows sisters Elinor and Marianne who must learn to overcome societal pressures in order to find love and their place in the world. The play will be performed in Fisher Theater on Feb. 22, 23 and Mar. 1, and Mar. 2 and 7:30 p.m. and on Feb. 24 and Mar. 3 at 2 p.m.

Averi Baudler

The Iowa State Department of Theater opened their production of “Sense and Sensibility” at Fisher Theater over the weekend, bringing with it an entertaining couple of hours that left audiences more than satisfied.

Based on Jane Austen’s classic novel, “Sense and Sensibility” follows the story of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, when the death of their father forces them out of their home into financial and social disarray. The play begins with Henry Dashwood’s death and the discovery that he has left his house to his son, John. Upon this realization, Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters are left trying to find a place to go.  

As the Dashwood women try to deal with restarting their life in a new home, the audience gets to see Elinor and Marianne navigate life and love while they form and end relationships.

As the show progressed it was interesting to witness the dynamic between the more serious and composed Elinor, played by Olivia Griffith, and the spirited and passionate Marianne, played by Erica Walling, as they dealt with similar situations.

The actresses did a great job of staying true to their character while also respecting and acknowledging the differences between the two women, which allowed the audience to see their sisterly relationship grow and change throughout the show.

Though all of the actors were fantastic, the Dashwood sisters did a great job of showing the true dynamic of familial relationships within an everyday household. Isabella Witte played the youngest Dashwood sister, Margaret, and brought a fun and childish energy to the stage that often kept the audience laughing and gave the show some levity goofiness at times.

“Sense and Sensibility” explored what it’s like to court and progress in a relationship with someone and didn’t hold back when it came to all of the awkward hilarity that can often accompany that process. There were many times where the audience would laugh in solidarity with the characters on stage as they navigated their relationships, as if to say, “I’ve totally been there.” 

An impressive part of the show is how all of the characters spoke with a British accent. Set in Regency-era England, the actors’ accents, in addition to their incorporation of the manners that were common at the time, really allowed the audience to travel to the time period.

The set was fluid and appropriate for the show, moving from scene to scene, giving the show dimension. The actors were incorporated into the set, framing each scene while they were “offstage,” sitting and sometimes acting on both sides of the stage for the duration of the show. This allowed transitions to move quickly and gave “Sense and Sensibility” momentum as the actors were able to move in and out of scenes quickly.

ISU Theatre’s version of the classic story was accompanied by string arrangements of modern, more contemporary music. Musical cuts from artists such as Radiohead, Lorde and the Pixies accented emotion in the scenes they played over. Audience members spent the show guessing what each song was, chuckling in surprise to hear it was “Royals” or Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop.”

“Sense and Sensibility” was a well executed play filled with talented actors, directors and crew members that showed audiences a fun and relatable story.

Those who missed the first weekend of its run still have a chance to see performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday or 2 p.m. Sunday. All performances are at Fisher Theater in Ames.