PREVIEW: Jane Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’ at Lost Nation Theater

Photo by Robert Eddy

by Jane Bishop

Do you want to get excited about the latest production at the Lost Nation Theater (LNT) on Main Street, Montpelier? Go talk to Kathleen Keenan, Producing Artistic Director … No, wait. Don’t try to talk to her, she’s busy.  Just go grab a ticket NOW for a ring-side seat to a rollicking — and wise — play.

Representing The Bridge, I caught Kathleen in a rare quiet moment this week and gleaned this preview for you. 

Opening Oct. 5th and running through October 22nd, this presentation of the award-winning adaptation by Kate Hamill bodes fair to knock our Darn Tuff socks off. Want proof? To whet your appetite, think of this:

Presented “in the round” in the intimate setting of the Lost Nation Theater, the 2-hour and 10-minute show features twelve actors, each taking multiple parts and on stage for 45 scenes.  Whew. Through creative staging (but with “no contraptions”), according to Ms. Keenan,  we will whirl thorough England in the 1880’s, following the Widow Dashwood, her three daughters, their friends and suitors — through alternating tribulations and thrills — then back again.

Deprived of home and fortune by 1) dear Papa Dashwood’s death, 2) England’s land laws, and 3) a weak step-son and his avaricious wife, what’s a poor lady with two marriage-age daughters to do?  That the daughters are intelligent, lovely, and devoted to each other — each with a mind very much her own — offers a tale worth telling.

With Austen’s famous humor, wisdom, and insight resonating in the script, this adaptation seems uniquely suited in sense as well as in sensibilities not only to the LNT but indeed to Vermont.

Where else would one find so many Vermont actors and visiting artists combining sharp profssional skills with pure, hard work, rehearsing a physically demanding show eight hours a day, six days a week, for weeks, to produce a Broadway-level production on a shoestring budget — in a small theater — to a small but rather sophisticated New England audience? In Vermont, that’s where.

Vermonters by choice, Kim Bent and Kathleen Keenan are now among our Vermont treasures, right up there with the State House and apple cider.   And this energetic and innovative version of a literary treasure may well prove to be one of their best.

Lost Nation Theater presents Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” adapted by Kate Hamill, Oct. 5 through 22 at City Hall Arts Center, 39 Main St. in Montpelier. Performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10-$30; call 229-0492, or go online to www.lostnationtheater.org.

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