Jane Eyre Review

Grand Opera House York – until 27 May 2017.  Reviewed by Michelle Richardson

Sally Cookson’s adaption of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, is bought to life by the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic, at York’s Grand Opera House.

It is an ensemble piece with a cast of 10, 7 actors and 3 musicians playing all the roles. Apart from Nadia Clifford, Jane, all play various characters, even the dog Pilot, and are on stage for the majority of the show.

Clifford plays Jane from birth through to her 20’s, from a powerless orphan to an independent, free thinking adult. She appears small and diminutive, plain but in reality, she is anything but, strong willed with a mind of her own. After being shipped off to Lowood School she becomes a governess for Rochester, Tim Delap. They shared great chemistry together, with Delap’s hair getting wilder as he becomes more tormented with his feelings towards Jane. Both were quite mesmerising, especially their interactions together, I really believed in their characters.

Francesca Tomlinson stepped in as an understudy playing amongst other, Helen Burns, Jane’s friend from school and Adele, Rochester’s ward and delivered a great performance. To be honest all of the cast performed well and created great energy.

I must mention Melanie Marshall, who portrays Berta Mason. Her vocals are amazing, haunting especially when singing the Gnarls Barkley song Crazy, I know crazy that song should be in a Jane Eyre production but it works. Marshall can certainly command a stage.

As I entered the auditorium I was struck by the stage, it was so bright, that is never going to work, is it? After all we are talking about Jane Eyre and the Yorkshire Moors. The design is basically white curtains, wooden platforms and loads of ladders. As it worked out it was inspired. It was utilised to great effect suggesting housing and rooms and with floating window frames constantly banging shut, providing the backdrop of Jane’s life. The red room that Jane is locked into by her Aunt is depicted with red light and you can believe you’re in hell. We are also treated to real flames as Rochester’s house burns and as an audience we can feel the heat. Great staging and design.

I was blown away by this production. A thoroughly fantastic show that gripped me, even at 3 hours duration, and it certainly deserved the standing ovation that it received at the end.

Showing in York until Saturday 27th May, and then continuing its UK tour. Honestly, get tickets whilst you can.