John and Fanny Dashwood, played by Bennett Haara and BG Cave, hold hands in the intimate setting of the Ring Theater as they share a tender moment at the crux of the performance.
John and Fanny Dashwood, played by Bennett Haara and BG Cave, hold hands in the intimate setting of the Ring Theater as they share a tender moment at the crux of the performance.
Mike Liu

‘Sense and Sensibility’: WFU Theater ‘Combines humor with sentimentality’

The acclaimed production from Wake Forest’s theater department transported viewers to another period

From Feb. 16 to Feb. 18 and Feb. 22 through Feb. 25, the Wake Forest Theatre Department presented “Sense and Sensibility,” a play by Kate Hamill adapted from Jane Austen’s novel. On Feb. 22, I attended the show at the Ring Theater at Scales Fine Arts Center and was thoroughly impressed by the execution of such a classic story. 

Walking into the theater felt like stepping back into a magical period that I loved getting to be a part of. The floor was painted with ornately designed colorful flowers, the room was illuminated with a fluorescent pink hue and floating icicles suspended from the ceiling. I knew that this would be a highly immersive and holistic sensory experience; I would not merely be an audience member, but a member of the times. 

At the beginning of the performance, I was impressed by how quickly the audience connected with the actors. The “gossips” were the driving force of this production, especially the performance delivered by senior Evan Souza, embellished with highly expressive and engaging looks at the audience. Not once did I feel a lull in the near two-and-a-half hour performance, as the audience appeared continuously entertained. Every actor brought a distinctive animation to their characters, which made the viewing experience particularly dynamic and involved.  

Many characters offered memorable performances. Among those include Fanny Dashwood played by freshman BG Cave. Howling at her dinner guests was both hilarious and also deeply unsettling as she selectively mocked women for how, in her opinion, they seek out a man to tie down. 

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Following his portrayal of a gossip, Souza delivered an emotional performance as Colonel Brandon. A little awkward, it’s initially unthinkable that he could be with outspoken Marianne Dashwood. However, it’s endearing how much he obviously cares for Marianne. It’s hard not to love Colonel Brandon because of Souza’s emotional performance; he excels in his craft and embodies a character and their motivations seamlessly. Souza’s performance so effortlessly illustrated Colonel Brandon’s character development and made audiences enveloped in the progression of his relationship with Marianne. 

The cast of “Sense & Sensibility” enjoyed a two week-long run at the Ring Theater. “It was a beautiful oppurtunity,” said actress Isabella Birick. (Mike Liu)

Among the many unforgettable performances in “Sense and Sensibility,” two female leads, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, were the main standouts. Two sisters that could not be more different, yet share this special bond that the audience can connect with. Their bond is characteristic of a realistic sibling relationship, showcasing the duty to love those who we grow up with — even if their decisions get on our nerves. 

I recently spoke with sophomore Isabella Biricik about what it meant to play Elinor Dashwood in this production. She remarked that “playing Elinor was a beautiful opportunity for [herself] as [she] got to learn the mannerisms and attitudes of people living in Jane Austen’s period.” 

She continued: “I felt like there was a lot about Elinor which I resonated with, which made it easy to connect with her.” 

Biricik, an English major with minors in theater and psychology, also performed in previous Wake Forest Theater performances including “Backstory” as Ainsle, and in “Witness for the Prosecution” as The Other Woman. In addition to these feature roles, she was an assistant director for a student-run production put on last semester, the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Of these, however, “Sense and Sensibility” has been her favorite. 

Biricik believes that the play “combines humor with sentimentality, which deeply engages the audience.” It is clear that Biricik’s sentiments about the play were reflected in each audience member’s gasps, laughs and smiles throughout the portrayal of these classic characters. 

In typical Jane Austen fashion, this play was lengthy and at times hard to follow due to the size of the cast. However, each actor had undeniable energy throughout the entire performance, which allowed for consistent engagement from the audience. This performance was extremely fun and excelled with its portrayal of a narrative that felt distinctly human. 

I felt proud to be a Wake Forest student as I watched actors put on this production with such inspiring passion. 

The WFU Theater Department debuts “Urinetown the Musical” on April 5-6, 11-13, 7 and 14 in Scales Fine Arts Center.

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