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Tuesday, 1 December 2020

REVIEW: Blackeyed Theatre's Jane Eyre (Online)

Earlier this year NT Live streamed their 2017 co-production with Bristol Old Vic of Jane Eyre as part of their National Theatre at Home season with its large scaffolding set and three-hour running time. It was a fine production in typical NT style. Now Black-eyed theatre brings their more stripped back version adapted by Nick Lane and captured at the delightful Wilde Theatre in South Hill Park in Bracknell. He selectively retells the story of Charlotte Bronte’s 19th-century heroine in just over two hours and focuses on the key relationship between Jane and Rochester. The result is more accessible, more engaging and a very enjoyable watch with a straightforward capture of the show.

Simply staged with a dark setting by Victoria Spearing (the Wilde’s resident designer) with beams that only hint of the various building her story takes us to and a few props consisting of two benches, two chairs and a table, the focus is on the performances. Actor musicians play virtually throughout as an underscore with occasional original songs and dance by George Jennings and Sammy Fonfe creating a melancholy mournful period feel against which the story is told. We skip relatively quickly over Jane’s unhappy childhood in Gateshead Hall with the bullying John and heartless Mrs Reed and her eight-year stay at Lowood School although her friendship with Helen is touchingly portrayed. When she arrives at Thornfield Hall where Jane at the age of 18 becomes a Governess to Adele the story takes off.
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