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14 hours ago
Beautifully acted and intelligently shaped, Available Light Theatre’s world premiere brings out the brooding romanticism in Brontë’s Gothic melodrama about a governess who falls in love with her employer.
Yet, this is another modernist deconstruction of a classic by playwright Daniel Elihu Kramer, who conceived the troupe’s acclaimed 2010 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Adopting the same meta-theatrical style but to slightly less effect, Jane Eyre also weaves in brief interviews with contemporary fans of the novel as a playful commentary on the still-potent roots of its enduring appeal.
Acacia Duncan’s sensitive direction, sharpened by well-timed lighting changes by Carrie Cox, keep the many levels of reality at play here crystal clear.
The multileveled approach, especially helpful in balancing the story’s darker and more depressive dimensions, largely justifies yet another version of the oft-retold saga of suffering and loneliness.
At the same time, it poses some problems.
In an understandable effort to capture the novel’s distinctive driving consciousness while dramatizing its events, Kramer splits the title character into a Narrator (Michelle Gilfillan Schroeder, compassionate and strong as the older Jane) and the young Jane (Robyn Rae Stype, sympathetic and believable as she matures amid misery).
Perhaps partly because of that split but also because of Kramer’s solid writing, the most compelling role in this adaptation is surprising: Not the title character, as one would expect, but her complex object of desire.
As Rochester, the secretive master of Thornfield Hall, Jeff Horst projects marvelous depths and nuances. You can feel his passion and his grief, his ardent sincerity and fearful deception. Horst also finds glints of gallows humor amid the gloom.
As Jane Eyre, Stype and Schroeder are souful enough; Horst’s conflicted Rochester is more so. (...)
Like Brontë’s novel, Kramer’s play is likely to be embraced most passionately by women, but it deserves a broader audience. (Michael Grossberg)
Maybe it is the sheer glut of dinner-party scenes that leave this novel feeling more classically Victorian than any I have read in recent memory. In both America and England, as well Nigeria, diners discuss politics and art and food as though in a novel by Brontë or Dickens, while money and race and romantic imbroglios simmer beneath the table and among the servants (who in America, Ifemelu wryly observes, are called caterers). (Michael Christie)The Daily Beast interviews the actress Alice Eve, wo plays Dr Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness:
Favorite books?Keighley News talks about the events at the Haworth 1940s weekend. The Parsonage as we have reported before will take part in the celebrations:
Portrait of a Lady, Jane Eyre, and then Andrew Marvell is my favorite poet. Everything in the Romantic movement is clearly a rebirth of grand proportions that kind of defined who we are, so Wordsworth, Keats, etc. My thesis at school was on Wordsworth. (Marlow Stern)
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will stage a fly-past featuring a Hurricane and Spitfire, weather permitting. The Parsonage car park will be transformed into an ‘airbase’, featuring a Dambusters exhibition, live entertainment and military vehicles.Financial Times traces a profile of the artist Cornelia Parker. Her 2006 Brontëan Abstracts project is mentioned:
And there will be displays by military and Land Army re-enactors on the Parsonage meadow. (...)
A series of special events will take place at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, spotlighting life there during the war years.
There will be talks by best-selling author Ann Dinsdale, museum director Prof Ann Sumner and parsonage education officer, Sue Newby.
“I am very interested in clichés, they’re part of our psyche and they’ve been nominated to stand in for [big ideas such as] romanticism. I want to subvert them. Somehow, if you can reduce the most known things to an abstraction, if you can point to an abstraction … Like the pinhole made by Charlotte Brontë” – this was part of a project she did with the Brontë Museum in Haworth, Yorkshire. “I’m very happy with that piece; that gulf that you photograph. It’s not necessarily just about her, it’s about the human condition; you know she suffered huge grief. So I am very consciously using clichés – wedding rings, pearl necklaces, money, the house, the church, the forest. They’re archetypes.” (Liz Jobey)Oliver Kamm, in The Times, criticises the use of the word 'decimate' in a too restricted way. In doing so, he quotes from Charlotte Brontë:
Charlotte Brontë wrote in a letter in 1848 about conditions at the Clergy Daughters' School at Casterton (it's quoted in Mrs Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë): "Typhus fever decimated the school periodically; and consumption and scrofula, in every variety of form bad air and water, bad and insufficient diet can generate, preyed on the ill-fated pupils."The writer Malorie Blackman chooses her favourite children books in The Telegraph:
She doesn't mean, and can't mean, that the disease killed every tenth girl.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe actress Anna Chancellor reveals an anecdote from her school days to Financial Times:
What drew me into this book from the very first page was that Jane’s life from childhood onwards was presented and that made the tale both relevant and accessible. Mr Rochester was one of the first “bad boys” I’d ever read in literature. He was brooding, mysterious, secretive, misunderstood – and I loved that about him. And I loved the fact that Jane was plain and didn’t have any special qualities except her character. I could relate to that!
Then suddenly I found myself away from home and being ordered about by nuns. They were very strict about what we could and could not read. Even Wuthering Heights was questioned for being too racy. (Jeremy Taylor)The Daily Progress interviews Barbara Heritage, Assistant Director and Curator of Collections with the Rare Book School, housed at Alderman Library at the University of Virginia and member of the Brontë Society; Hello, better reads! thinks that Jane Eyre is far more darker than Wuthering Heights (an interesting post by the way); Brontë Weather Project has read Wide Sargasso Sea; The Clothes Make the Girl has traced an Slovenian translation of Jane Eyre; The Brontë Society's website publishes pictures of Dr Lucy Worsley's talk at the Parsonage.