There are a handful of stories which truly stand the test of time. Irrespective of whether one is even familiar with the original, their narratives seep into a collective consciousness… scattering phrases, concepts and characters with abandon. They live in the shadows around us, stalking the landscape, peering around oak-panelled doors with a new incarnation every so often, throwing out a spooky laugh when we least expect it.
A worthy and spirited interpretation which should salve the pulsating needs of any devotee
Blue Orange Arts have tapped into the perennial fascination with all things Bronte with their pacy and purposeful adaptation of Jane Eyre now playing at the Spaces Surgeons’ Hall. The only definitive telling of Bronte’s Gothic wish-fulfilment ‘autobiography’ is of course the novel itself, and it is important to realise that any stage interpretation will always be a version. Fringe expectations of course tacitly dictate the length of shows and it is quite understandable that huge chunks of the narrative remain lost and wailing on the wilds of the Yorkshire moors: but in dispensing with the psychological detail that gives the novel its rich emotional complexity, we do lose the childhood memories which shape Jane and build our empathy for her. The focus on Jane – all other characters circling like minor satellites, unlikely ever to really threaten or alter her romantic path – is a brave one which forces our attentions to her romantic choices over her social obstacles… and reflects the great confidence at the heart of this piece.
The four-strong cast create an innately theatrical event which wisely eschews any semblance of naturalism and showcases skills of puppetry, physical theatre and multi-roling to create the textured landscape of this revered classic. Kimberley Bradshaw captures the unyielding gumption of Jane and has solid support from James Nicholas, Richard Buck and Kaz Luckins. Whilst it never quite reaches the emotional heights suggested by the evocative opening music, it is a worthy and spirited interpretation which should salve the pulsating needs of any devotee or introduce the most salient themes and well-known characters to newbies.