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From Charlotte Brontë’s decision to publish the book under a male pseudonym to the strong, female lead character, Jane Eyre is a feminist masterpiece. In contrast to many novels at the time, Brontë’s heroine fought for her own rights and freedoms. The pen name Currer Bell allowed readers to judge the book on its merits, rather than dismissing it due to its female author. This week, Blackeyed Theatre company brings an exciting adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre to the stage at Malvern Theatres. The show is running until Saturday, 28th September.
About Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is a likeable character with a sorry tale to tell. Orphaned as a child, she grows up with her aunt and cousins. Badly treated by the whole family, she is eventually shipped off to school. From there, her life really begins. She settles in so well that on leaving, she becomes a teacher. After two years teaching, she finally moves on. Replying to an advert for a governess, she eventually finds herself at the home of Mr Rochester. It is then that the complicated love story begins. Traumatic events ensue, but Jane’s strength of character comes across throughout.
Jane Eyre’s initial popularity has barely waned during the intervening years since its author revealed her identity. Now, Nick Lane has adapted the novel for the stage. The production is performed by actor-musicians to a soundtrack of classical music written especially for this iconic tour.
The Blackeyed Theatre adaptation of Jane Eyre
The style of performance delivered by Blackeyed Theatre gives the audience everything they need, and nothing they don’t. Kelsey Short plays Jane Eyre throughout. Narrating the play as her older self, then flitting seamlessly to her childhood and whatever age she is portraying. Against a backdrop of a very basic set moved around by the actors themselves, all other roles are played by four actors. Ben Warwick as Mr Rochester, Camilla Simson as Mrs Fairfax, Eleanor Toms as Blanche Ingram and Oliver Hamilton as St John Rivers. Each of these also played several other characters during the course of the production.
All instrumental and vocal music was produced by the small cast. Additionally, they used instruments and other objects to create the soundtrack. Classic scenes portrayed the atmosphere you would expect. At times, I could hear people around me crying, laughing and gasping. The actors drew us into the story and the set until we were all over-invested in Jane’s fate.
The Blackeyed Theatre production of Jane Eyre is at Malvern Theatres until this Saturday, 28th September. Information and tickets are available on their website. To find out dates and locations of the rest of the tour, head to the Blackeyed Theatres website.
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