Sense and Sensibility
a Chapterhouse Theatre Co. Adaptation
Killerton House (National Trust), Devon
Reviewed by Merrion Murgatroyd
Having not read this Jane Austen novel for many years, it was with both keenness and a sense of trepidation (rain was forecast!) that a friend and I departed with our flasks, blankets, brollies and camping chairs to Killerton House to watch the Chapterhouse Theatre Company perform their outdoor adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.
Upon our arrival, despite the rain, our worries were eased as the signs were clear, the parking easy and right next to the House (a beautiful National Trust property) and the Box Office where we were to collect our tickets was right in front of us. Being National Trust there were plenty of volunteers to point us in the right direction to the perfect landscaped gardens behind the house.
A simple stage lay before us, at the bottom of a flat lawn which rose at the back. The 'indoor scenery' props were coping well with the rain and the fact that the actors had to get changed in a tent behind the scenery for ease did not deter from the overall effect.
We chose to settle to the rear of the lawn, so that we were higher than the rest of the audience to get a really clear view. Although I worried that we might not be able to hear, this concern was soon put to rest once the actors came out and started walking amongst the audience, selling programmes. It was clear that no microphones would be needed.
The play started shortly after 7pm and lasted until 9:45. There was a 20 minute break half way through and despite the weather we didn't look at our watches once! The music was performed by two of the actors, both flautists, who shared the role between them. Although simple this was effective and there was no need for any further accompaniment. .
The thing that really struck me was how just 8 actors played the roles of 18 characters so perfectly! Simple costume changes made it clear who was who so there was no confusion over the simplicity of the cast. We really were wowed from start to finish. The actors clearly knew the play, the costumes were just right for the outdoors performance and the actresses especially coped magnificently with the rain drenching their dress hems.
Thanks must surely go to Laura Turner, the writer who adapted this novel for the Chapterhouse Group. None of the storyline was lost and I would love to go to watch another of the Chapterhouse Groups performances as they tour the country. I thoroughly recommend this touring group to you – their website is up to date and clear to understand.
For more details, tour dates or to book tickets click here.