I have vivid memories of sitting in a caravan as a young child watching Jane Eyre and being absolutely terrified of the crazy bride in a burning house. It honestly scarred me and its been a write off for me ever since. But when I heard it was heading to Milton Keynes Theatre and I saw the rave reviews I decided it was time to give Jane a second chance. Forgive and forget, thats what they say isn’t it?
This stage adaption of the classic Charlotte Bronte novel is the brainchild of director Sally Cookson alongside the fabulous team at the Bristol Old Vic. The story struck a chord in Sally and she saw in Jane a model of feminism. In fact this character – created in 1847 – seemed strikingly modern. If you get the opportunity to read her introduction in the programme, do, it is very interesting.
The story of Jane Eyre narrates her life growing up as an orphaned child, finding her independence in her teens and falling in love as a young woman. Interestingly, the original title was to be Jane Eyre – an Autobiography. I certainly would agree that it is more of a life story than a love story, although there is enough love in there to please all you romantics. The real triumph in this multi-faceted story is that there are so many interweaving aspects that every member of the audience will take away something slightly different.
Overall, the production is simply stunning. The cast is of course completely phenomenal with Nadia Clifford leading as Jane. She encompasses the role with power and raw gut-wrenching emotion – really a joy to watch. The rest of the cast were equally strong, it would be unfair to name only one or two when all deserve recognition – I’ll list below. They are backed by the gorgeous musical interludes of 3 talented musicians and the heavenly voice of Melanie Marshall.
Alongside the cast was another entity in itself – the lighting. Designed by Aideen Malone the lighting in this production is particularly innovative. It almost feels like another character with the ability to completely change the setting or mood within a scene when the characters remain in the same place. Michael Vale’s set is exciting. Its almost like one of those giant kids climbing frames with the ladders, steps, monkey bars and ramps to go with it. It remains constant throughout the show and yet it is the foundation upon which each location is built. Together with the innovative lighting, gorgeous costumes and first class acting the design of this production is faultless.
Jane Eyre is a masterpiece – a demonstration of how to transform an old classic into a modern and relatable piece whilst staying true to the story that so many people love. Not only will it reignite the old love that so many people have for this story, but it certainly has the potential to win over an entire new generation of Jane fans. Perhaps we’ll call ourselves the Jane-ators or something snazzy like that.
Jane Eyre will be at Milton Keynes Theatre until this Saturday 15th July and then will continue on its UK Tour. For more information head on over to the Jane Eyre UK Tour Website!
CAST: Hannah Bristow, Matthew Churcher, Nadia Clifford, Tim Delap, Alex Heane, Melanie Marshall, Evelyn Miller, Paul Mundell, David Ridley and Lynda Rooke.
*Production Images by Brinkhoff & Agenburg