Sense and Sensibility

3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(8user reviews)
Theatre_Sense & Sensibility.jpg
© Tom Hanslien Sense and Sensibility

If one were to imagine a Merchant Ivory film corseted into a small dark room above a pub, Helen Tennison's 'Sense and Sensibility' would be it. Benedict Davies's emotive score underpins a world full of 'Downton Abbey' charm. And Tennison breathes fresh air into this classy piece of chick-lit in an accomplished, if giddy production.

Jane Austen's tale of sisterhood still resonates. For many women, whether they are painfully sensible or acutely sensitive, a good man is hard to turn down and a devilish one impossible to resist. Elinor and Marianne Dashwood find themselves oppressed both by financial circumstance and a well meaning aunt (an utterly 'Alison Steadman' but nonetheless charming performance from Lainey Shaw). Both sisters fall in love, lose it and then regain it.

It all feels very 'darling'. Elegant movement sequences add a cut-and-thrust theatricality to proceedings, and feminist undercurrents bubble away nicely before Tennison drowns them out in a cacophony of over-the-top happy endings. As the cast zig-zag around Ellan Parry's busy set, an expansive sense of space is formed in the Rosemary Branch's tiny upstairs theatre. James Burton, Emma Fenney and Bobbi O'Callaghan give us richly drawn portraits of Edward Ferrars, Elinor and Marianne respectively.

But as the girls begin to make stellar matches, the rambunctious style of this amiable musical production becomes mawkish.

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Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|8
1 person listening

I really enjoyed the play and was particularly impressed by the actress playing Elinor, who portrayed beautifully the struggle to suppress strong emotions demanded of women by society in Austen's day. And Time Out have you read the novel ? Austen writes happy endings - the director didn't just decide to add them in. It was also a real pleasure to watch the play in such a small, intimate space.


Saw it again last night: it was even better - perhaps pacier, I was able to take in more of the subtleties of the performances and of the whole production. And by the way, the Sunday lunches served in the pub are superb!


I think this well-written review is very polite about a cliched and predictable show in uncomfy seats.


"Downton Abbey"?.... "an expansive sense of space"? ..... "classy piece of chick-lit"?! Come on Time Out, it may be a small theatre but surely it deserves a serious reviewer? Lovely production, elegant and ambitious - definitely a 4 or 5 star show!


beautiful production, flawless performances, funny, heartfelt and moving - highly recommended for Austen fans and doubters alike!


I had my doubts about attending a theatre production above a pub but couldn't have been more wrong. This was an amazing production, wonderful acting and very polished and professional in every way. The small theatre added to the charm as I felt right in the middle of each scene. The pub downstairs looked cozy, with board games and friendly staff, good for a drink in the interval. Highly recommended evening for less money then a trip to the cinema yet about a hundred times better.