Birmingham & Tour
Jane EYRE: based on the novel by Charlotte Bronte, devised by the original company
Birmingham Rep till 16 September 2017
Bristol Old Vic & National Theatrre Touring
Runs Approx 3h 15m, one interval
B’ham Rep till 16 09, then tour to 21 10
Bham Rep BO: 0121 236 4455
Review: Rod Dungate, 04 September 2017
It is a brae theatre company that takes on a new adaptation of JANE EYRE; there have been many, and they can be pedestrian. Not so with this production though; with detailed and imaginative thought it is a delicate multi-layered structure – first class story-telling.
Sally Cookson (who directs) and her team fuse text, design, sound and light effects, music and song, to create a fluid show that sustains its own narrative; the colours of the original are retained as echoes enriching our experience. It is a melodramatic tale, this flavour is also retained, but held beautifully in check so that we get a sense of the period context. On the other hand, Jane herself is clearly seen as a woman struggling against the social constructs that imprison her – so the production is for today as well. It is highly detailed; it is long (perhaps slightly too long) and while it is never ‘moving’ in a conventional sense it is intensely and immensely satisfying.
This is a strong ensemble cast with a host of strong performances. Nadia Clifford is marvellous as Jane Eyre. She combines both strength and vulnerability and she has a fine vocal quality that sits well across the production’s layers. Tim Delap, in the strange role of Rochester, brings a humanity that ensures he takes us with him.
Great interest is created too from the use of Bertha; rather than being ‘the mad woman’, she becomes a kind of soul to the house, echoing the play’s themes. Micheal Vale’s skeletal set manages to keep the Rochester house ever brooding in front of us yet magically transforming to wherever the story needs.
(Full Dredits to follow).