Category Archive for: ‘Flora Lynn Isaacson’

Austen‘s Persuasion

Austen‘s Persuasion
Adapted by Jennifer Le Blanc at RVP

Popular English author Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility) had a final novel Persuasion which has been brought to life by Marin native Jennifer Le Blanc and directed by Mary Ann Rodgers.

Anne Elliot (Robyn Grahn) is the 27-year-old over-looked middle daughter of the vain Sir Walter Elliot (Steve Price), an arrogant baron who spends excessive amounts of money. Eight years before the story properly begins, Anne is happily engaged to a Naval officer, Frederick Wentworth (Gregg Le Blanc – husband of Jennifer), but she suddenly breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend, Lady Russell (Rachel Kayhan) that such a match with a penniless man is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne deep and long-lasting regret.

Wentworth re-enters Anne’s life when Sir Walter is forced by his own financial irresponsibility to rent-out Kellynch Hall, the family estate. Kellynch’s tenants turn out to be none other than Wentworth’s sister Sophia (Ellen Brooks) and her husband, the recently retired Admiral Croft (Clay David). Wentworth, who has just returned from sea, is now a rich and successful captain and has never forgiven Anne for rejecting him. While publicly declaring he is ready to marry any suitable young woman who catches his fancy, he privately resolves that he is ready to become attached to any appealing young woman with the exception of Anne. All of the tension of Persuasion revolves around one question: will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?

Mary Ann Rodgers and her capable 20-member-cast give impressive performances. Robyn Grahn is perfect in the central character, and Greg Le Blanc is also wonderful as Capt. Wentworth. Rachel Kayhan begins the play as Lady Russell, the person who persuaded Anne to dump Wentworth. Notable performances from the talented cast also include Jayme Catalano, as Anne’s sister Elizabeth, Steve Price, as Sir Walter, Ellen Brooks as Sophia, Clay David, as Adm. Croft, and a superb actress, Anne Ripley in a cameo role as the dowager Lady Dalrymple.

Many of the actors stepped briefly out of character to deliver a running narrative connecting plot development that otherwise might have been difficult to follow. An easel stage-right informed the audience as to the locale of each scene (which would have remained a mystery). Set designer Malcolm Rodgers gives us an all-white set which becomes both indoor and outdoor locations. One nice special effect was twirling parasols when the characters rode in a carriage. The period costumes by Michael A. Berg were outstanding – absolutely stole the show. First produced after her death in 1817, Persuasion is the last of Jane Austen’s romantic novels. As adapted by Jennifer Le Blanc, Persuasion retains its own enduring charm.

Persuasion is running at Ross Valley Players from November 14 through December 14. Thursday performances are at 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. There will be Special Performances on Saturday, December 13th, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. All performances take place at the Barn Theater of the Ross Valley Players at 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross CA. To order tickets, call 415-456-9555, extension 1, or go on line to www.RossValleyPlayers.com.

Coming up next at RVP will be Impressionism, a contemporary romance by Michael Jacobs, from January 16 to February 15, 2015.

Flora Lynn Isaacson