Pitlochry Festival Theatre - Sense and Sensibility.

The Guardian 27 June 2024

You might be excited to know that this adaptation of the Jane Austen novel comes complete with a soundtrack of pop songs. A show with close-harmony renditions of Beyoncé’s Halo, Olivia Rodrigo’s Vampire and Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Murder on the Dancefloor, not to mention wine-bar versions of Poker Face and Good Vibrations, sounds like it could be the next Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of), which combined sassy modernity with emotional truth.

Sorry to disabuse you, but no such luck – and not only because musical arranger Adam Morris gives the songs such maudlin settings. That could have added a lovelorn note to Austen’s tale of thwarted romance. No bad thing in itself, except it is not reflected in any other aspect of Adam Nichols’s shapeless staging, a co-production with Ovo in St Albans.

Two crucial things are missing. The first is the decorum of Austen’s world. Only a few of the actors in the eight-strong ensemble have a grasp of Austen’s 19th-century rhythms, and too many break their polite reserve for knockabout jokes or angry outbursts. Theirs should be a rigid society in which codes of behaviour do the talking; take those codes away and you lose the dilemma. [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).