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|S&S rsdio adaptation - a review.
Written by Rachel G
(8/17/2013 6:34 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, A radio adaptation of S&S, penned by Kathleen Glancy
Some of the characters came across well - Marianne and Sir John Middleton were played very much as I imagine them from the text. I thought Lucy was especially good - she was suitably snake-like, and the actress played her with a slight west-country accent which effectively conveyed her poor education and lack of 'class'.
Most of the other characters seemed rather flat and colourless. I missed Elinor's incisive intelligence and irony. We were told that Mrs Dashwood and Marianne were very alike, but that didn't come across in the script and the acting. And Willoughby's enthusiasm and charisma didn't come across at all.
Part of the problem for me was that the actor's voices were, for the most part, not readily distinguishable. So sometimes it was not immediately clear whether the character who was speaking was Mrs Dashwood, Elinor, or Lady Middleton.
By far the biggest problem was that so much had to be cut. The first episode began with the Dashwoods' arrival at Barton Cottage, and ended with Elinor and Marianne about to go to London. So we had to do without the first five chapters of the novel, including the tour de force of Fanny Dashwood persuading her husband to be mean to the Dashwood ladies in chapter two.
The total run time for the two episodes was just under two hours - about the same length as a movie. A movie has to cut a lot to tell the story with in the time constraints, but the visuals can convey a great deal without soaking up extra screen time. A radio adaptation has so much less to work with - no visual cues at all, no actors' body language etc to help to tell the story. So it is a very tall order indeed to cram the story into the same length on radio.
I could not help thinking how much more satisfactory S&S is as a printed text, with all Austen's wit and irony and nuance to be enjoyed. I have no idea how long it would take me to read the novel from scratch, as I know it so well and tend to skip, but for comparison I see that the unabridged audio cd version read by Juliet Stevenson has a run time of 12 hours 43 minutes. I expect the adapters did their best, but a two hour radio dramatisation really could not do more than sketch the outlines of JA's story.
I had intended to listen to the second episode, but by the time I got round to it it had been taken off I-player. I cannot feel that I missed very much.
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