Wednesday, 31 May 2017

REVIEW: Jane Eyre at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

“Following a critically acclaimed season at the National Theatre, this innovative re-imagining of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece is a collaboration between the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic and is directed by Sally Cookson.”

“The classic story of the trailblazing Jane is as inspiring as ever. This bold and dynamic production uncovers one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment on her own terms. Jane Eyre’s spirited heroine faces life’s obstacles head-on, surviving poverty, injustice and the discovery of bitter betrayal before taking the ultimate decision to follow her heart.”

This is a meta theatre at its best. Minimalist in its sets and costumes, yet utilised with such brilliance, you create the scenes yourself. Director Sally Cookson has devised some extraordinary moments in this show. Set Designer, Michael Vale, has created a stunning visual piece with a fantastic use of levels and space. Jane Eyre utilises the height of the New Victoria Theatre with expert
creativity for scene setting and atmosphere. With Lighting Designer, Aideen Malone – the pair have mastered a stunning theatrical work worthy of all the praise I can muster. Without revealing any spoilers, the floating veil, the make-shift windows and the red room were all stand-out moments demonstrating the genius creative power behind this show. 

Nadia Clifford leads this show as the title character. As Shakespeare once wrote - “though she be but little she is fierce” – indeed is Clifford. Aging Jane from newborn baby to school-child to governess and beyond, she handles this role so expertly, it’s as if the show is written for her entirely. Her performance was captivating and utterly convincing. She shone as the leading lady and I will be looking out for her next shows – I can’t wait to see her perform again.

As her troubled Byronic hero, Mr Rochester, is Tim Delap. This brooding, dark and moody gentleman is wonderfully played, with Delap’s performance really tapping into the troubled mystery of the character.

Melanie Marshall as Bertha Mason was a vital component in the success of this show. While Jane Eyre is a play, there is live musical underscoring and vocal breaks where Marshall sings in this production. Her soaring soprano and operatic vocals filled the auditorium; the beautiful segment in Act II featuring an original interpretation of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ was a highlight of the show. 

The ensemble collectively added some truly spectacular moments. As Pilot, the excitable dog owned by Rochester, Paul Mundell was superb and proved an audience favourite. 

As Sally Cookson herself says “Jane understands from a very early age that in order to thrive she needs to be fed, not just physically but emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.” Cookson has fed her audience in the exact same way with this production. 

Jane Eyre is hugely imaginative – seductive, gripping and enchanting all at once. 

This is quite simply must-see theatre. 

Review by Harriet Langdown

Rating: ★★★★★
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