Reviewed by Michaela Clement Hayes
After a troubled childhood devoid of love, a young woman takes the post of governess in a big old house. She soon falls in love with the owner, but he is not all that he seems and behind the corridors lurks a dark secret that threatens to destroy her happiness…
“A heroine who transcends every cliché” Jane Eyre is one of my favourite literary heroines, so I was keen to see an adaptation of this well-loved novel. As with any of the classics, new interpretations can be disappointing, but Bryony J. Thompson’s version had me riveted throughout.
The stage was simple-whitewashed walls (much like the cottage Jane lives in when she is school mistress), six chairs and two steps. Plain, perhaps to reflect Jane herself, but effective. Costumes too were white, with Mr Rochester’s black boots the only contrast. This intimate setting helped to invoke the intimacy that Jane shares with us as she tells her story.
The play itself was fast-paced, skimming over Jane’s childhood in just a few minutes, but managing not to lose any of the drama of the main story.
Although Jane (Helen Russell-Clark) and Mr Rochester (Rob Pomfret) play just the one character, the other four cast members take on all remaining roles, including Jane’s thoughts, which is a nice touch.
Russell-Clark is perhaps too pretty for the role of Jane, but her acting is sublime, perfectly capturing our heroine’s emotions throughout. Pomfret is a perfect Mr Rochester-rugged and brooding and exactly as Brontë herself describes.
There were a few misplaced lines, but it didn’t detract from the magic of Thompson’s interpretation, which is one of the best adaptations of classic literature that I have ever seen.
Jane Eyre plays at the Rosemary Branch Theatre until 5th May. For more information and to book tickets click here
Photo credit: Bill Knight