'Persuasion': accurate representation of peoples' struggles with unspoken but obvious feelings



On July 17, 2017, student actors, alongside with their professional counterparts, gave a heart-wrenching, view of the unspoken feelings between exes who continue to feel a connection in “Persuasion,” at the Wells-Metz Theatre in Indiana University. This adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1817 novel by Jennifer Le Blanc focuses on the reunification of two past lovers who were once engaged. The people of the 19th century may have had different cultural influences, but this doesn’t mean they didn’t have their hearts broken the way we do.

The actors completely succeeded in physically representing a pain that is sometimes completely inexplicable. Every time Anne, played by Ashley Dillard, would be anywhere near her ex-fiance, Captain Wentworth, played by Grant Goodman, each actor’s facial expression alone was enough to make the audience feel utter sympathy for how much each character longed for the other. It could even make one feel understood in terms of their experience with not being able to get over a past love.

The plot of “Persuasion” revolves around Sir Walter Elliot, widowed father to Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary, being advised to reduce the family’s spending because of their debts. Sir Walter Elliot decides it would be easier for him to manage the family’s funds if they all moved to Bath. This leads to the Elliot family deciding to rent out their current home in Kellynch Hall to Admiral and Mrs.Croft, the sister of Captain Wentworth. This is a big deal for Anne because she and Captain Wentworth are ex-fiances and Anne still loves him ever since she hesistantly broke off the engagement.

The setting for the play was very minimal and involved a select group of props, such as a tables that varied in size and small couches that would be moved throughout the play.  

The actors were a mix of professional actors from the Actors’ Equity Association and student actors who have previously attended or continue to attend Indiana University for acting. A few actors in particular stood out for how natural and real they seemed in their role. Mary, played by Tara Chiusano, was very flexible with her character. She could be a poised mother who handled everything or an immature woman who became deathly ill whenever it benefited her in the same character. This is only scratching the surface when it comes to discussing what makes “Persuasion” the success that it is. You can get tickets from Indiana University Theatre’s website or from the Wells-Metz Theatre.