On Sunday I’ve been to the Sense and Sensibility script reading in Hampstead Theater.
The cast read Emma Thompson’s screenplay and I have to admit it was more than I expected.
The cast (as in the pics from left to right):
Will Kemp: Willoughby and Mr Palmer,
Nikesh Patel was Edward and Robert Ferrars
Alison Steadman: Mrs Dashwood,
Natalie Dew: Margaret and Lucy
Mark Hadfield: John Dashwood and Sir John (+ extra parts like the footman, etc.),
Rebecca Humphries: Elinor,
Isabella Laughland: Marianne,
Richard Lintern: Colonel Brandon and Mr Dashwood
Issy wan Randwyck: Mrs Jennings
Imogen Stubbs: Fanny and Charlotte,
The stage directions were read by Edward Hall
I’ve met Imogen Stubbs (who played Lucy Steel in the film) before the show and she said “we will just read it”. Well… it wasn’t “just reading”, I mean they were sitting in a half circle, but they definitely played with their voices, face expressions and they used bodylanguage.
Richard Lintern (you might know him from Silent Witness) was an absolutely fantastic dying John Dashwood to start with. As Colonel Brandon he wasn’t that convincing, but it might be my falult as I pictured Alan Rickman’s portrayal as a standard.
Alison Steadman as Mrs Dashwood: I always thought Mrs Dashwood and Mrs Bennet had more in common than we would first think of. This was verified by Alison’s playing, but I don’t think it was because she played both of them in the same way or because I couldn’t abstract…
Rebecca Humphries (as Elinor) and Isabella Laughland (as Marianne) were absolutely stunning. You might know Isabella from Harry Potter and honestly, I was very prejudiced. I was convinced that she is miscast. I was amazed by the job she has done. Almost better than Kate Winslet. Rebecca’s Elinor was somewhere between Emma Thompson’s and Hattie Morahan’s and it would be interesting to see her actually playing. Her reading was not really a reading as I think she learnt the lines, hardly checked the script. I didn’t know her name before, but I’ll remember from now… (Ohh, if you google her there is a song she wrote and sings called Disney Princess Song – priceless: Rebecca Humphries – Disney Princess Song)
Imogen Stubbs who did play Lucy Steel in the original film, now played Fanny and Charlotte. Both characters were delivered with everything what they are, it was very funny and well done.
Probably the funniest ‘performance’ was Mark Hadfield who played John Dashwood and Sir John. He was absolutely hilarious in both roles.
Issy van Randwyck (I knew she was familiar but I had to google to figure out where I know her from. She is a fromer member of Fascinating Aida) read Mrs Jennings’ part; Nikesh Patel’s Robert and Edward Ferrars were both all quite good.
Will Kemp’s Mr Palmer was almost as good as Hugh Laurie, but to tell the truth his Willoughby was rather weak. Natalie Dew was Margaret and Lucy, and both portrayals were quite good.
As a conclusion I would say, it was amazing and very very funny. Up until now I haven’t realized how funny the script is. Of course some of the lines/jokes come across the film, but I can tell you, not all of them, even if you watched it 20 times. Basically we laughed through the whole reading.
It was fantastic, and now I shall read the screenplay again. Btw, if you are interested, it is online in pdf for free. I have the official Sense and Sensibility screenplay book with delightful pictures.
Finally, here is Alison Steadman (Mrs Bennet) and me: