Thursday, January 29, 2015


Theatre at Baddow at the Village Hall

This version of the classic romantic novel focuses on the unsmooth path to true love of the Dashwood girls, with a little comic relief and a hurried happy ending - “events tumbling on top of one another”.
Pauline Saddington's production is stripped to the minimum – black drapes, a few nice pieces of period furniture, and a cast of seven, plus two supernumeraries who bring messages and shift chairs. A simple, largely static staging allowing us to concentrate on Austen's plot, and her words, which are ingeniously woven into the dialogue.
It's a strong, young cast. Almost everyone is dressed authentically, almost everyone is vocally convincing; no easy task with this polished dialogue. The girls – acquiescent Elinor [Sense] and headstrong, emotional Marianne [Sensibility] – are clearly contrasted by Helen Quigley and Donna Stevenson. The objects of their frustrated affection are the pale and amusing Ferrars [Nick Milenkovic] and the fickle, dissolute Willoughby [impressively characterized by Liam Mayle]. The attractive schemer Miss Lucy Steele is played by Ruth Westbrook, and the gentlemanly Colonel Brandon gets a confident, stylish performance from Roger Saddington.
The only bonnet on show is worn by Aunt Jennings, the voluble busybody deliciously done by Beth Crozier.

The music, not much of which would have been heard in the parlour at Norland, provides a lush cinematic under-scoring to the storyline.

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