The theatre company has made their production of Charlotte Bronte’s classic story available to watch online.
As a classic story of love, endurance and hardship, Jane Eyre is one that is still as powerful as ever as it follows the life of a woman whose awareness of her own limitations due to being an orphan and how she overcomes her struggles was a book that was ahead of its time and is still relatable today. But with its multiple themes and elements, it can be difficult to accurately bring it to life on the stage.
For this production, adapted for the stage by Nick Lane, this imaginative take on this beloved story has plenty to offer those who perhaps aren’t familiar with the plot. Yet for those who are – it is a brisk production that can make it a struggle for the audience to get a strong emotional connection with the characters. It keeps hold of course of all the original elements of the plot but doesn’t take as much time to explore them as it could to deepen our understanding of the characters.
However, this being said this adaptation does offer a stronger characterisation of Jane Eyre herself. She is bold and confident on occasion, while highlighting the character’s own awareness of the limitations of her life that her background has put on her. This is all enhanced by Kelsey Short’s spirited portrayal of Jane, which makes her more of an active participant in own story rather than meekly stood to one side as other adaptations do – highlighted by ensuring that she is a narrator in the story.
Directed by Adrian McDougall, the production is wonderfully atmospheric and enhances the gothic qualities of the story effectively. In particular, Alan Valentine’s lighting design and George Jennings music is so wonderfully effective during the moments when Jane hears mysterious noises in Thornfield Hall or when she is locked in the red room at her Aunt Reed’s house. Meanwhile, I also enjoyed the way in which a variety of rooms at Thornfield was conveyed by use of props and the cast. The only thing it lacks is the opportunity to really get to know and grips with the characters themselves.
This is down to the fact that it is a cast of five performing a range of characters whom they are able to transform into effortlessly but adds to the briskness of the production as a whole that can be disorientating. However, there are performances that are immensely enjoyable. In particular Camilla Simson impresses as not only the warm and welcoming Mrs Fairfax but the cold Mrs Reed and the tragic Bertha. The differences between her characters are huge and yet she makes it look completely easy. Eleanor Toms was also delightful with her portrayals of the excitable and spoilt Adele and the snobbish Blanche Ingram.
Overall, this is a refreshing and bold production, yet it would have been even better if it didn’t feel quite so brisk and allowed us to get to understand the characters a bit more. But it is still worth a watch if you have never experienced the story on stage before.
By Emma Clarendon
Jane Eyre is available to watch through Blackeyed Theatre’s Youtube Channel here.