Jane Eyre - The Bronte Season - Theatre Review

Much like his Wuthering Heights adaptation, Dougie Blaxland composes a succinct, engaging and elegant piece of theatre with Jane Eyre. Fluidly weaving Eyre’s past with her present (a strong decision); he manages to capture the superstitious, gothic tone and sense of mystery within this tale with great strength. By sustaining the role of narrator (one of many taken on by Alison Campbell), one could be led rapidly and effortlessly through the stages of this heroine’s turbulent life, without sacrificing Jane’s characteristic vulnerability and intensity. Here is a writer of technical brilliance, with a rare gift for bringing classics to life with loyalty, energy and intrigue.

Jazz Hazelwood directs this play with a finite eye for the nuances of characterisation. Accentuating each shift of character and scene with clarity and distinction, leaving no crevice overlooked - she charges each dramatic moment with textured and familiar tones.

Campbell leads this show with a performance worthy of any west-end theatre, taking on every character as well as being the sole storyteller. Losing herself in dramatisations, whilst ensuring that she holds the audience in her story, she fills the stage with the energy of several performers. Campbell achieves something close to magical with this performance, often leading us to forget that the stage is (virtually) empty and convincing us that her multiple character interactions have coexistent lives of their own. The chemistry and romantic energy between Jane and Rochester was tantalising. The fact that they are both played by the same actor is astonishing.

With perfect simplicity, the technical team conjure a clear and strong sense of time and place, using lighting to signify its own specific (and often eerie) atmosphere, taking us through the sombre phases of Jane Eyre's past.

Perhaps, one thing missing from this production was the looming menace of Bertha which could have added a powerful intensity to the lead-up to their doomed day of matrimony. A description of her first, obscured sighting and a dramatic scene in which Rochester's bed has been set alight, certainly introduce us to her unexplained presence; but it isn't until the night before Jane's wedding that we witness any unease on her part, which doesn't quite hold our suspicions with the strength of Bronte's masterpiece.

A fantastic piece of theatre and one that I could not recommend strongly enough.

(c) Naia Headland-Vanni 2014

Jane Eyre by Butterfly Psyche at Redmaids Theatre, Bristol

'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë
Adapted by: Dougie Blaxland
Directed by: Jazz Hazelwood
Starring: Alison Campbell

Butterfly Psyche https://www.facebook.com/pages/Butterfly-Psyche-Theatre/171687882891600?...

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