Sunday, 18 November 2018

New stage adaptation brings all Jane Eyre’s power to bear

New stage adaptation brings all Jane Eyre’s power to bear

Jane Eyre | The Watermill, Bagnor | Tuesday, October 30

WHEN Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre in 1847 she used her characters to comment on contemporary society as she saw it, and the result was a powerful work that criticised so many aspects of the social mores, education, law and religious influence of her day.

Now the writer-in-residence at the Watermill Theatre in Bagnor, Danielle Pearson, has created a powerful and very intelligent adaptation of the story that brings all the strength of Bronte’s text to bear to make it gripping and relevant for audiences today.

Director Chloe France has achieved remarkable things with this production, using a small but hugely talented cast to bring the characters and atmosphere of a bleak and socially divisive Yorkshire to life.

A recent graduate from LAMDA, Rebecca Tebbett belied her youth and relatively slender experience with an incredibly accomplished performance as Jane, managing to perfectly convey the vulnerability yet strength of character that the part requires.

The story of Jane’s life from her repressive schooldays until her appointment as governess to Mr Rochester’s ward and beyond is well known, but in the Watermill’s hands it takes on a fresh and lively life of its own.

Alex Wilson’s thoughtful interpretation of Rochester made it possible for his audience to understand Jane’s attraction to him, and allowed us some sympathy for his predicament in trying to conceal his wife’s mental illness. His was a superb performance that contrasted well with the other characters he portrayed during the telling of the tale.

But if accolades are being handed out for versatility, surely Wreh-asha Walton must take the prize as she moved seamlessly from one character to another from her secure vantage point of being Bertha, whose story she tells so well both through movement and voice.

Her singing added greatly to the enjoyment of the story, and helped emphasize the tragedy of her and Rochester’s situation.

This is a superb production, which is now touring — including a performance at Bradfield village hall near Reading tomorrow night (Saturday) at 7.30pm. For more information and to book, call 01635 46044 or visit www.watermill.org.uk

Mary Scriven

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