Theatre review: Sense and Sensibility, Brunton Theatre

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CHAPTERHOUSE Theatre are most famous for the outdoor productions of Shakespeare, which they tour around stately homes during Britain’s fitful summer weather.

It’s not a vocation that lends itself to subtlety; the shows have to be picturesque, clear and colourful, preferably with a large measure of comedy.

They also have to be produced on a shoestring, since the company never has money to spare; and it’s therefore not surprising that their winter touring version of Jane Austen’s Sense And Sensibility has many of the same characteristics, working its way obligingly through the highlights of Miss Austen’s familiar story without any visible attempt at depth and with a commendable lack of pretentiousness.

There are a couple of performances – from Hayley-Marie Axe as the older Dashwood sister, Elinor, and from Adam Grayson as the ageing and stalwart Colonel Brandon – which hint at the wider significance of the culture-clash between Enlightenment rationalism and emerging romanticism that divides Austen’s heroine and her sister, Marianne, in temperament, even if it unites them in affection.

On the whole, Rebecca Gadsby’s production is content to shuffle its basic, slightly wobbly set around, and to recount one of the most popular romantic stories in literature.

And in the end, there’s something appropriate both about the less-than-glamorous look of the show and about its basic goodness of heart.

Sense and Sensibility ***

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh