‘Sense and Sensibility’: A story of love and forgiveness


Photo courtesy Calvin Theatre Company.

The Calvin Theatre Company just wrapped up their two-week run of “Sense and Sensibility,” which was adapted by Jessica Swale from Jane Austen’s classic novel. The show is the third and last installment in the company’s “season of love and forgiveness.”

Centering on the Dashwood family, the play follows sisters Elinor and Marianne (played by sophomores Julia Verstraete and Katie Rozendal, respectively) after they are left penniless by their half-brother John (played by junior Quentin Barnes), who swindles them out of their family fortune. On top of adapting to their new position in society, Elinor and Marianne struggle with matters of the heart, as they are swept away by the possibilities of romance.

The two sisters couldn’t be more opposite of each other in interest, desires or behavior. Elinor, who represents “sense,” is the practical one — she’s more guarded with her emotions for the sake of the people she loves. Marianne, on the other hand, is the passionate one — a hopeless romantic that is purely motivated by her emotions.

Compared to Austen’s classic novel, this adaptation of the play provides a more refreshing and humorous perspective. Debra L. Freeberg, the director of the show, says that she chose this script because it wasn’t a reiteration of the book or the movie.

“What I loved about this work was that it was really active, and it kept the storyline moving,” Freeberg said. “It wasn’t just taking some of Austen’s dialogue and setting it on a page; it incorporated humor and energy.”

The show’s ensemble did a phenomenal job of emulating the familiarity of each character while still adding an original twist to the show. Each cast member added layers of complexity to their characters without losing the lightheartedness of this adaptation.

Verstrate and Rozendal, in particular, stood out amongst the crowd as they captured the tension between the Dashwood sisters while still conveying a sense of sisterly love that is both loyal and unconditional.

“One of the things that we strive to do is to tell the story,” Freeberg said. “And what is important to us is to be good storytellers and stewards of this story and to tell it in a way that’s honest, authentic and engaging.”

Even though this show may seem to center on love, compared to “Arabian Nights” and “The Amish Project,” which clearly focused on forgiveness, it still offers a unique perspective on how both themes intertwine.

“This show ties the season together really well, because it holds both [love and forgiveness] in the way that each main character chooses to show their feelings and passions, who they chose share that with and how they deal with the ups and downs that come with that,” said Carlie Bergsma, the show’s stage manager and a senior.

The Calvin Theatre Company will start back up in the fall of 2018 with their 85th Anniversary season, which is dubbed “A Season to Create, Unite and Renew.”