THEATRE REVIEW: Jane Eyre ★★★★

Jane Eyre
National Theatre, London
Saturday 21st October 2017

The National Theatre's production of Jane Eyre, which is a co-production with Bristol Old Vic, was first staged in 2014, where it played at The Old Vic until transferring to the Lyttelton Theatre in 2015. This new reimagining with a updated cast, though I have just witnessed the penultimate performance at The National, feels incredibly fresh due to the sheer energy and dedication to the whole ensemble, particularly towards Nadia Clifford, who takes on the title role.

Along with everything else she manages to get her hands on, Sally Cookson has once again directed a beautiful piece of theatre which expanses decades and county's but simply is thrown on stage effortlessly with the direction taken here. It is only heightened further due to the incredible design from Michael Vale, which plays with elevation on stage in many different levels, and feels like a playground for the actors to discover their characters. Aideen Malone and Dominic Bilkey complete the team with the wonderful Lighting which captures and fills the stage, and the Sound which literally transports you into the world which is unfolding on stage.

As someone who has not read Jane Eyre before, I was a little wary that I would find the story hard to understand, and even though at times I did find this due simply to the multi-roling of characters, it wasn't long before this soon settled and I found myself focused in watching the performance. For someone who hardly goes off stage throughout the whole production, Nadia Clifford's portrayal of Jane Eyre was captivating, and you could believe every word and movement that was being given from her; the chemistry between all the actors was a really lovely thing to watch, and I think that will evidently be the primary thing that all will miss following the end of this production, as they all seemed to have so much fun retelling Charlotte Brontë’s tale.

Tim Delap takes on the role of Rochester during this run, whose presence is very much felt with his towering stature amongst the rest of the ensemble, where notably Hannah Bristow and Evelyn Miller take the mantle piece of many personas throughout, giving dedication to their craft, bouncing around the stage with expressions and angst throughout. A further beneficial aspect of this production was the band, who kept the story developing as we travelled into different destinations, but most notably the chilling rendition on Gnarls Barley's 2006 classic 'Crazy' will most likely be the moment, mirrored against deafening imagery on stage, that will stick in audiences minds for a long time, ghostly sang to perfection from Melanie Marshall, who has returned to the role from it's original staging in 2014.

Overall, Jane Eyre was a beautiful piece of theatre which captured my imagination, and was performed wonderfully due to the sheer brilliance of the whole cast on stage.


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