devised by the Company based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë.
Lyttelton Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX In rep to 10 January 2016.
1.30pm 3, 15, 24 Oct, 14 Nov, 5, 23 Dec, 6, 9 Jan.
2pm 4, 25 Oct, 15 Nov, 6 De, 10 Jan.
7pm 2, 3, 5, 6, 14, 15, 23, 24, 26, 27 Oct, 12-14, 16 Nov, 3-5, 7 8, 21-23, 26, 28 Dec, 5-9 Jan.
Audio-described 24 Oct 1.30pm (+ Touch Tour 12pm), 14 Nov 1.30pm (+ Touch Tour 12pm).
Captioned 25 Oct.
Runs 3hr 15min One 20 min interval.
TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 25 September.
Fine team work.
Sally Cookson’s much acclaimed adaption of Charlotte Bronté’s Jane Eyre is a feast of fluidity and visual invention. First staged at the Bristol Old Vic last year in two parts, at the National it’s been honed down to just over three and a quarter hours – a long haul in normal circumstances but wholly justified.
Cookson’s true-to-its-period but modernist version seldom flags and provides powerful arguments as to Charlotte Brontë’s pioneering spirit promoting the rights of women to a full exercise of their imaginative lives.
Not that book adaptations are new; they’ve been around a long time, at the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre as well as Mike Alfreds’ work with Shared Experience and Method and Madness, while under Polly Teale Shared Experience did their own Jane Eyre . Max Stafford Clark and Neil Bartlett are among other directors to have had their share of book adaptation successes.
Cookson’s version then follows a time-honoured tradition and does so with some panache whilst adhering to the minimalist, spare staging favoured by many of her predecessors.
Credited as “devised by the Company” and set within a simple structure of platforms and ladders, what makes this Jane Eyre notable is its economy, its musical motifs – a live trio is onstage for most of the time – and the underlining of Jane’s journey from child orphan and powerlessness to author of her own destiny. In Madeleine Worrall’s wonderfully grounded Jane, we come to see `unjust’ and `freedom’ as Jane’s driving motivators. Fighting words indeed.
There is much else besides, suggested swiftly by a gesture, a song, a short exchange, as for example, Laura Elphinstone conveying the TB-wracked death of Helen, Jane’s only friend at the appalling Lowood educational institution, by the tiniest of head movements; or Craig Edwards’ canine companion, Pilot, flopping hind legs akimbo next to Felix Hayes’ bearded, gruffly guilt-ridden Mr Rochester.
Add exceptional singing from Melanie Marshall providing a constant, mellifluous musical commentary on Jane and Bertha’s emotional and spiritual states and you have a production that will undoubtedly send new generations spinning back to the original.
Mr Brocklehurst/Pilot/Mason: Craig Edwards.
Helen Burns/Adele/St John/Grace Poole/Abbot: Laura Elphinstone.
Rochester: Felix Hayes.
Bertha Mason: Melanie Marshall.
Bessie/Blanche Ingram/Diana Rivers: Simone Saunders.
Mrs Reed/Mrs Fairfax: Maggie Tagney.
Jane Eyre: Madeleine Worrall.
Musicians: Benji Bower, Will Bower, Phil King.
Director: Sally Cookson.
Designer: Michael Vale.
Costume: Katie Sykes.
Lighting: Aideen Malone.
Music/Music Director: Benji Bower
Sound: Mike Beer, Dominic Bilkey.
Movement: Dan Canham.
Fight director: Renny Krupinski.
Dramaturg: Mike Akers.
Company Voice work: Richard Ryder.
First performance of this adapted production of Jane Eyre at the Lyttelton Theatre London, 17 September 2015.
First staged in two parts at Bristol Old Vic, February 2014.