Jane Eyre: based on the novel by Charlotte Bronte: National Theatre at Home to 15th April 2020. 5*****. Mark Courtice

Jane Eyre

National Theatre  co-production with Bristol Old Vic

based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë

devised by the original company.


Viewing platform


9 April at 7pm to 16 April 2020

Running Time: 2 hours 55 minutes with a very short interval. Review Mark Courtice 9th April 2020


This, the second of the season of the National Theatre At Home shows, is a wonderful, creative treat for the lockdown.

In 2015 on the National’s huge Lyttleton Theatre stage this seemed a bit lost, but this sensitively filmed live performance really works. Now it is focused and powerful. Although early on at co-producers the Bristol Old Vic this adaptation ran over two nights, the show here shows few signs of surgery.

Important scenes are given time to breathe, partly because the storytelling is fleet, using movement, sound and the full armoury of theatrical effects. Thus the important moment when Jane leaves childhood is done with an onstage costume change. Music is crucial, so the band sits centre stage, and Benji Bowers’s score is beautifully sung and played; there’s a heart stopping moment when Melanie Marshall sings “Crazy” – it genuinely does work, trust me.

Madeleine Worrall as Jane and Felix Hayes as Rochester are at the centre of an excellent ensemble. Both are given a chance to be expansive and nuanced. She is principled, tough minded (her moments of doubt are shown by a cluster of voices surrounding her), and quicksilver. He is beset from the off, despite his brusque bullying tone, so you can see why she cares so much for him.

The cast work with skill, precision, and grace to create the worlds that Jane inhabits. They climb stairs, flicker and glide over surfaces on Michael Vale’s skeletal set (good for gothic mystery), creating a fluid world, often seeming to be part of the fabric of places, from schools to the three formative houses Jane lives in. Helped by Aideen Malone’s consistently apt lighting you really can feel the difference between the dark and cold Lowood and the warmer chaotic (and nonetheless faintly sinister) Thornfield.


Musician    Benji Bower

Musician   Will Bower

Mr Brocklehurst / Pilot / Mason   Craig Edwards

Helen Burns / Adele / St John / Grace Poole / Abbot   Laura Elphinstone

Rochester   Felix Hayes

Musician   Phil King

Bertha Mason   Melanie Marshall

Bessie / Blanche Ingram / Diana Rivers   Simone Saunders

Mrs Reed / Mrs Fairfax   Maggie Tagney

Jane Eyre   Madeleine Worrall


Other parts played by members of the company


Creative Team

Director  Sally Cookson

Set Designer  Michael Vale

Costume Designer  Katie Sykes

Lighting Designer  Aideen Malone

Music/ Music Director  Benji Bower

Sound Designers  Mike Beer & Dominic Bilkey

Movement Director  Dan Canham

Fight Director  Renny Krupinski

Dramaturg  Mike Akers

Company Voice Work  Richard Ryder

Staff Director  Ellen Havard

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