Although the incomparable Jane Austen has been gone from this life for more than two centuries, she’s still capable of generating the hottest ticket in town. This exhilarating student production of Sense and Sensibility enjoyed a well-deserved sold-out run of two weeks at SBCC’s Jurkowitz Theater. As directed by Katie Laris, the Kate Hammill adaptation of Austen’s novel functioned as a kind of literary playground for the young cast. Combining powerful effects from physical theater such as the standing bed trick and rolling furniture with Austen’s potent language resulted in a heady experience.
At the story’s heart are two splendid leading roles — the Dashwood sisters, Marianne (Miranda Ortega) and Elinor (Penny O’Mahoney). Together, they take on the Regency marriage market, a gossip-saturated game of musical chairs in which those without inherited fortunes, be they male or female, must remain forever standing, permanently alone and shamefully unwed. Their paths to happiness are forked, and excellent turns by Ryan Ostendorf (as Edward Ferrars) and Ryan Rathbun (as John Willoughby) give the Dashwoods a merry chase along the way.
Director Katie Laris has a terrific crop of actors on her hands at SBCC, in part thanks to the excellent training several of them received in our area high schools. We can look forward to many more exciting productions from this talented cohort.