REVIEW: Jane Eyre, Grand Opera House, York

Jane Eyre is on tour
Jane Eyre is on tour

I was aware that director Sally Cookson’s interpretation of Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre was going to be very different from any previous stage versions of the book; it was indeed.

It was one of the best adaptations of the novel I’ve ever seen. I only wish there’d been productions like this when I’d studied English literature at school.

Michael Vale’s set design of a simplistic and modernist climbing frame-esque structure of wooden platforms and metal ladders was the perfect setting for this energetic, imaginative production.

Sally Cookson’s fervour to present a Life Story rather than a Love Story captured Jane’s spirit and strong will, “her peculiar and brilliant mind striving for personal freedom to be who she is , lashing out against any constraint that prevents her from being herself ”.

The themes of the story were explored with the company.

The heart of the story and characters were portrayed brilliantly in a heatrical way, which evoked the essence and magic of the story.

The ensemble cast were superb; the multi-roling seemingly effortless and most effective.

Nadia Clifford was outstanding in her portrayal of Jane Eyre, and convincing as the feisty protagonist who knew that in order to thrive she needed to be fed not just physically but emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.

Clever use of simple props, soundscape, live music and lighting meant that we empathised completely with her frustration and feelings of being repressed.

Tim Delap was wonderfully brooding as the troubled Mr Rochester and Melanie Marshall, commanded the stage with her mesmerising vocal performances, such as Mad about the Boy and Crazy.

Paul Mundell was equally convincing whether he was playing Pilot, Mr Rochester’s dog, or the severe Mr Brocklehurst! Lynda Rooke too, brought life to her opposing roles of spiteful Mrs Reed or the benevolent Mrs Fairfax.

It runs at Leeds Grand Theatre from July 31 to August 5. Tickets: 0844 848 2700

It is at Hull New Theatre from September 11 to 23. Tickets: 01482 300300