Oxford Theatre made its first debut on March 1st, for Kate Hamill’s play adaptation of the beloved Sense and Sensibility classic written by Jane Austen.
“It was Ms. Jessie Rivers’ first time coordinating a play here at Oxford College,” Mitul Patel, sophomore, announced at the end of the play’s last performance this past Sunday. “We couldn’t have done such a great job without her.”
From beginning to end, the show riveted its audience through a blend of modern and 17th century England. The cast began the show by playing Get Lucky by Daft Punk on orchestra instruments, and then included transitions between scenes with piano instrumentals of pop music. For most audience members, having this musical setup gave them a better understanding the show’s plot line and made the show more comfortable to relate to the characters and situations of the time.
Bella George, a first-year student, commented, “The music was so amazing throughout the play for setting the mood. I still can’t believe they put Arctic Monkeys and Awolnation in there, that was just perfect.”
Also, these thoughtful improvisations to the reformed adaptation of the show made its overarching message clearer in modern context, which promotes the importance of being true to oneself in making independent decisions for mental self-empowerment, especially for women.
“Austen told stories of social pressures and expectations and gender inequalities with such wit, humor, and universal characterization that her words are entirely relevant in today’s society,” wrote Rivers in the Director’s notes. “I think she would be pleased to find that which was important to her so many years ago is still important today.”
One other creative element the cast incorporated into the show was the way the props (chairs, windows, trees) were manipulated to create cinematographic effects. Throughout the most important moments in the show, the emotion felt by these characters would be emphasized by the use of the items on stage: whirling confusion, stubborn determination, nervous anticipation, etc.
The unexpected introductions of comic relief also kept the audience on their feet. In multiple scenes, the actors would assume animal roles in such a way that it made those specific scenes last much longer in the minds of viewers, as many of them could attest to when asked which part of the show was their favorite in terms of the funniest.
“It was definitely when they played as puppies,” commented Louise Liu, a freshman who went to see the show Friday night. “I wasn’t expecting the way they just ran up to the stage like that, but they did such a good job too.”
Overall, the show proved a success. Up until the last performance, nearly every seat was filled in the Tarbutton Theater due to the glowing reviews that the two before had received, and the cast members reported the number of stumbles on stage to have been next to none.
“I don’t think there were any major moments we made any mistakes really,” said Jordan Harper, who played John Willoughby and John Dashwood, “We gave our best performance every time.”