Monday, November 21, 2022


John & Fanny Dashwood (Robert Weardon & Kayla Ciceran) - Anne Steele (Sienna Curnow) - Lucy Steele (Kate Garrow) in REP'S "Sense and Sensibility"

Direction and Set design by Cate Clelland - Costume Design by Anna Senior OAM

       Lighting Design by Nathan Sciberras and Leeann Galloway – Sound Design by Neville Pye

                      Canberra Rep Theatre 18th November – 3rd December 2022.

                         Opening night performance reviewed by Bill Stephens

Marianne Dashwood (Annabelle Segler) -Elinor Dashwood (Karina Hudson) - Edward Ferrars (John Whinfield) - Mrs Dashwood (Ann-Maree Hudson)

Canberra Rep is on a winner with this delightfully playful production of Kate Hamill’s adaptation of the Jane Austen novel “Sense and Sensibility”.

Directed with a deft hand by Cate Clelland, who also designed the elegant setting, Hamill’s play manages to follow Austen’s novel faithfully enough that those who have read the novel will have no trouble following the story.  Audience members unfamiliar with the novel might need to be a bit more alert to keep up though.  Not that it really matters because everything  works out happily in the end, and there is so much to enjoy about this production that the journey is the best part.

Clelland’s entertaining and ingenious concept makes much use of tabeaus and freezes. Changes of locale are  indicated on an on-stage notice board, and grand banquets, ballrooms and the myriad other settings required for the busy storyline are differentiated by clever, tightly choreographed, skilfully executed scene changes in which the large ensemble efficiently re-arrange the splendid antique furniture.

Some of the ensemble double in principal roles, but when not acting a specific character, inhabit the shadows around the perimeter of the stage, observing and responding to the events as ever-present gossips.  It’s a clever directorial effect that echoes Austen’s world in which everyone seems to be pre-occupied with gossip.

Anna Senior has provided stylish period costumes for all the cast, which require only  the addition or removal of hats or bonnets to signify whether the events are happening inside or out;  while  Properties Co-ordinator, Brenton Warren has excelled with an array of  gorgeous artefacts that contribute so much to the handsome look of the production. It all works a treat and is hugely entertaining.  

Marianne Dashwood (Annabelle Segler) - Mrs Dashwood (Ann-Maree Hatch) - Elinor Dashwood (Karina Hudson) in REP's "Sense and Sensibility".

You won’t be surprised to learn that most of the action revolves around the three Dashwood sisters, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, and the efforts of their mother, Mrs Dashwood, to find the two eldest, Elinor and Marianne, suitably rich husbands.

Karina Hudson and Annabelle Segler both offer vivacious, contrasting performances as the sisters, Elinor and Margaret, both questioning their roles in a world restrained by manners. Hanna Cornelia as the youngest, Margaret, has less opportunity but still scores her share of the laughs. Ann Maree Hatch is suitably dignified as their widowed mother, Mrs Dashwood.

Mrs Jennings (Ros Engledow) - Anne Steele (Sienna Curnow ) - Thomas  (Justice- Noah Malfitano) 
in REP'S  "Sense and Sensibility"

Among the host of other characters who play out the convoluted plot, Ros Engledow is a stand-out  with her engaging performance as the garrulous but well-meaning  Mrs Jennings, while Rob de Fries revels in three roles, Sir John Middleton, the Doctor, and a not particularly convincing, Mrs Ferrars.  (Yes you read right). 

John Whinfield, Kayla Ciceran, Kate Garrow, Sean Reve, Sienna Curnow, Jack Shanahan, Robert Wearden, Rosemary Gibbons, Russell Godwin, Justice-Noah Malfitano and Freya Rowell all contribute delightfully broad, tongue-in-cheek, characterisations as well as maintaining admirable energy to create what appears to be a cast of thousands.

This is the type of production that Canberra Rep does so well and makes a perfect finale production to celebrate Canberra Rep’s  90th Year and as such is recommended as a perfect theatrical treat for the festive season.


Images by Helen Drum