The production is set in England with the Dashwood family. It begins with the loss of Henry Dashwood. His widow and two daughters are left on their own to find their future.
Dashwood’s brother, John, fails to support the three women, so they accept a new residence in a different village. Before their departure, Elinor, the oldest daughter at 19 years of age, begins to fall for her sister-in-law’s brother, Edward. Edward in turn falls in love with Elinor, but the play leads to secrets and confusion between the woman he wishes to love versus the woman his forward mother seeks for him.
During this time the younger Dashwood daughter, Marianne, falls for the handsome John Willoughby who also falls for her, but leaves for London and is caught in a marriage he did not seek.
Love from a Col. Brandon comes to Marianne over time as she recognizes his love and care toward her. Austen’s portrayal of love creates a lesson for what real love is and the principle of how women and men do not always understand each other in relationships, but come to an understanding in the end.
Marianne’s struggle to overcome her strong feelings for Willoughby, who is played by Sam Ashdown, was portrayed much like a real-life relationship break up. Austen’s story portrays realistic situations and brings a spark of passion and emotion as the viewer can experience the journey the characters go through.
Actresses Cassandra Bissell and Eva Balistrieri play the Dashwood sisters with precision. Audience emotions connect freely with the stage performers. These two bring the play to life.
The character Mrs. Jennings, a widow herself, takes the Dashwoods in and seeks to help the Dashwood daughters to find their husbands. Kathleen Brady plays this part of a mother seeking the best for a pair of daughters she informally adopts as her own.
The play is enjoyable with small town gossip, high expectations, a yearning for love and humor in a classic story adapted for the stage.
For more information on the festival, this season, or tickets, visit www.bard.org.