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Full company ensemble in Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility

Sarah Kempton (Elinor Dashwood), Alice Imelda (Marianne Dashwood) and Thomas Richardson (Colonel Brandon). Photo by Robert Day.

[F]or the first time since Theatre by the Lake’s opening year, the whole company of actors who make up the summer company will join forces to perform in Jane Austen’s much-loved Sense & Sensibility, which takes to the theatre’s Main House stage from 9 August.

Things look bleak for sisters Marianne and Elinor Dashwood when they find themselves cheated out of their inheritance and turfed out of their home with little money to live on and even less to recommend themselves to suitors.

Banished to a chilly cottage in Devonshire, the arrival of a dashing stranger promises to change their fortunes forever; but the course of true love never did run smooth as Marianne and Elinor discover in the classic tale of injustice, heartbreak and love.

Sense & Sensibility is one of Austen’s most popular novels, as immortalised in the 1995 film featuring Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman. The TBTL production is adapted by Olivier Award-winning writer Jessica Swale, who also adapted TBTL’s hit Christmas show The Secret Garden; the fifth production in TBTL’s Summer Season, it features all ten of this season’s company of actors – the only show in which they all perform together and the first time since 1999 that a TBTL summer season company have all performed in the same show.

Cast member Sarah Kempton who plays Elinor said: “It’s fantastic to all be working together, it feels like a real treat to be working with so many wonderful and lovely actors. We already know each other so there’s huge trust between us all and immediately the characters have real chemistry on stage.  It creates a very supportive, creative environment. There’s also lots of laugher!”

This stunning version of the novel is beautifully adapted by Jessica Swale, and has brought Austen to life in a very real and current way. You don’t have to be an Austen fan to enjoy it; the characters feel so alive and fresh and the scenes whip along at such a pace you just can’t help but get absorbed in the story and fall in love with the characters. While staying totally true to the language, period and characters, the play is far from a slow, drawing room drama. It cleverly brings the humanity of the people to life, and the real humour and tragedy of it all.”

Juliet Forster, the show’s director and Associate Director of York Theatre Royal where the show will transfer in November, added: “Austen’s infamous wit sparkles all the way through this brilliant adaptation; it sweeps you along in a whirlwind of romance, drama and dancing, yet still manages to unfold the depth and folly of the human heart.”

Sense & Sensibility plays in Theatre by the Lake’s Main House from 9 August to 26 October (in rep with Single Spies and Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense in the Main House, and Rails and Bold Girls in the Studio). Tickets range from £10 to £36; for more information and to book tickets visit or call the Box Office on 017687 74411. The show also plays at York Theatre Royal from 6 to 10 November; find out more at

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