Sense and Sensibility at Lytham Hall
The accomplished playing of all eight members of the Chapterhouse Theatre cast made this first play of the Lytham Hall season an open air performance to relish.
Laura Turner’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel skilfully brought out the differences in thinking between the three Dashwood sisters as Katy Helps, Anna Simmons and Gemma Marsh, in her professional stage debut, all commanded the audience’s attention throughout.
Helen Fullerton’s Mrs Dashwood was entirely convincing too, as her tones and over-the-top gestures created much amusement, while Katherine Astbury was splendidly sniffy in all the right places.
Graham Hill, Paul Tonkin and George Weightman ensured that this was not just about women’s thoughts and emotions. Their ramrod straight backs and courtly tones captured the flavour of regency formality precisely.
Audibility was helped by a bright calm evening, excellent diction and the protected woodland setting. However a couple of scenes played on the grass would have been better seen on the stage.
A gruelling summer tour is in prospect for the company, but on this opening night it was Lytham’s privilege to enjoy the freshness of a new production, enhanced by evocative music and song.
A play of many words and of many entrances and exits, was here always given admirable pace by Rebecca Gadsby’s clear direction.