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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

City Theatre performs ‘Beyond Persuasion,’ a Jane Austen adaptation
Graphic created on Canva by Acsah Lemma / [email protected]

City Theatre held its first performance of “Beyond Persuasion,” a modern adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel, “Persuasion” on March 9.

The show was previously scheduled for the week of March 2-5, but the City College Theatre website announced that it had to postpone performances to the following week, “due to cast and crew indisposition.”

The play was adapted and directed by Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin, City College professor of theater arts and film.

According to the City College Theatre website, “Beyond Persuasion follows the story of the admirable and sweet Anne Elliot, the heroine who has a resigned outlook that she will not marry. The story centers on themes of love, and rekindled romance, and comments on the lavish and superficial life of Bath, where the story is partly set.”

The play is an adaptation of the novel “Persuasion,” written by celebrated 19th century English author Jane Austen, and the novel’s summary describes it as a “brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, and a mature, tender love story tinged with heartache.”

The opening night performance began at around 7:30 in the evening, to a small yet eager crowd that had rushed in from the storm raging outside. 

From the eccentric, greedy patriarch Sir Walter Elliot, to Anne’s selfish and attention-seeking sister Mary, the actors captured the essence of each of Austen’s memorable characters. The play portrayed these characters to their extremes to point out how absurd the lavish lifestyles of English genteel society was.

The director made sure the actors utilized the entire stage, as well as making use of the space in between the stage and the first row of seats. Certain scenes such as the various evening parties, gossip between characters and walks around their grand estates, happened simultaneously on the stage to ensure there was never a dull moment.

The adaptation overall stayed true to the source material, as it followed the same plot of miscommunications and second chances surrounding the protagonist, Anne Elliot. But the play told this story using humor in order to grip modern audiences, presenting Austen’s complex language and themes in an easily digestible way. It also incorporated various modern twists, such as Anne playing pop songs on the piano, and the actors wearing jean jackets and sunglasses along with their lavish gowns and Navy uniforms.

Austen’s “Persuasion” is said to be ahead of its time regarding its harsh critique of English society in the 1800s, and its social customs, which are seen as bizarre by today’s standards. It centers around a world in which social hierarchy is valued above all else, where the prominence of one’s family determines one’s success. Although these customs are outdated, our modern society still suffers from issues such as classism and elitism, with a harsh stigma surrounding those raised in poverty.

Austen’s critique of the lavishness and pretentiousness within the wealthy class of England, and the social customs which oftentimes stand in the way of the characters’ happiness, remains relevant even in today’s American society.

City Theatre’s adaptation of the novel gives the audience a chance to experience Austen’s riveting tale of romance, within the grand high-society estates of 19th century England, through a uniquely modern lens. Similar to modern adaptations such as “Bridgerton” or “The Crown,” the play bridges the gap between two distinct eras in time and is great for fans of modernized takes on classical stories.

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Emma Richman
Emma Richman, Editor in Chief
Emma is passionate about writing in multiple disciplines, such as professional and creative. Emma is primarily interested in writing about news that directly affects Sacramento and its citizens during her time on the Express.
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