Jane Eyre at the National Theatre
Tonight’s audacious and equally breathtaking performance of Jane Eyre comes courtesy of the company and Bristol Old Vic. Praised in high regard on its initial run, the show makes its return to London’s National Theatre.
The production excellently challenges the traditional way Jane Eyre is typically read and interprets it in a modern and original manner, with a stage that remains static throughout and actors who take on a number of roles; for example, Hannah Bristow acts as Helen Burns, Adele, Grace Poole and Abbot. In particularly memorable scenes with an intriguing artistic vision, the cast come together to perform the same actions, expressing Jane travelling or her innermost thoughts.
Jane is depicted with an effective vivacity and calm modesty by Nadia Clifford, keeping true to Brontë’s protagonist. As director Sally Cookson explains, ‘Rather than approach the novel as a piece of costume drama, I was keen to explore the themes and get to the heart of the story’.
The play is presented with clarity and a deeper understanding of the multi-faceted text. It focuses not only on the relationship between Jane and Mr Rochester, but also depicts a heartwarming coming-of-age tale. At times hilarious (Paul Mundell as Rochester’s dog Pilot is a delight) and with evocative music played by Alex Heane, Matthew Churcher and David Ridley, complemented by the riveting voice of Melanie Marshall, the show is enthralling in all aspects, though bare in its set design.
Cookson stays loyal to the much-loved classic, and adds a stark freshness that is continually original. This adaptation smartly reflects the philosophy of Jane, proving to be a free-spirited play “with an independent will”. The piece creates a vividly intense portrayal and possesses as much soul and heart as one of literature’s most famous heroines.
With a brilliant cast and innovative stage design, this theatrical production will surely be deemed a modern classic in years to come.
Photo: Brinkhoff Mögenburg
Jane Eyre is at the National Theatre from 26th September until 21st October 2017. For further information or to book visit the National Theatre website here.