Jane Eyre; Traditional Theatre with a Contemporary Twist
After seeing the West End production of Jane Eyre, you might be forgiven for thinking you had just watched a contemporary tale.
In fact, the story harks back to an 18th century setting with the novel Jane Eyre written by a young Charlotte Brontë in 1847.
Jane Eyre tells the story through first person narrative of Jane Eyre herself; a girl left orphaned by the death of her parents and her uncle sends her to live with his family at Gateshead Hall. When he dies, Jane is left alone with his family, who dislike her, and she has a difficult childhood at the hands of her abusive aunt and cousins. Jane longs for the opportunity to escape the tyranny of her uncle’s family and when an opportunity comes to go to a school for girls where she can get an education, she is finally released from the shackles of her distant relatives.
Although her time at Lowood Institution proves to be just as testing for her, she soon becomes an adult and a teacher. The next chapter of her life, complete with its own set of challenges, is at Thornfield Hall as a governess, where she meets the brooding Mr Rochester who she later marries.
There have been film adaptations over the years that have won favourable reviews, but it is this new West End production that really seems to have tongues wagging. The director, Sally Cookson, has divided opinion with her masterful contemporary twist of a classic, with some believing the production should have stayed much truer to its roots. However, the set, the acting and the clever use of cast rotation for each role is really something to behold. You are invited in to really understand how Jane Eyre feels throughout the various stages of her life, with a particular poignant moment being when wooden picture frames are held up in front of Jane’s face to represent a window, and she breaks free pushing them aside with such energy and renewed vigour as a gust of wind breathes new life into her adulthood.
The inclusion of a singer at various points throughout the show is indeed a far cry from the original novel, but the music and orchestral arrangement does work really well. For younger audiences, they are likely to feel closer to the story due to the modern twist, and we applaud Sally Cookson’s diverse and unique adaptation of this true classic.
Things to look out for:
• The clever role changes; the actor playing Mr Rochester can be a domineering master just as well as a young student at Lowood.
• The orchestra – the music really is beautifully elegant and perfectly timed
• The atmosphere – you feel like you have taken the whole journey with Jane and the atmosphere at the end is quite emotional.
If you like the classic Jane Eyre, this adaptation is a great way to bring Brontë’s classic bang up to date for 2016. Book tickets now!