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Best of all is the way the production always pays close attention to the changing tenor and nuances of Jane's emotional journey from damaged angry child to independent woman. Much of that is due to Benji Bower's dazzling score and arrangements, delivered with soaring purity by Melanie Marshall, who plays Rochester's mentally ill wife, Bertha. It creates a fascinating double effect, as if one woman's struggle for freedom is constantly mirrored by the pain of another woman, caged by mental illness and the bars of the attic. Jane and Rochester's final reconciliation comes with an aching sense of loss.The Financial Times also gives it 4 stars out of 5:
The show is at its best when it is most surprising. There is a glorious moment when Jane's recognition of her feelings for Rochester is marked by Noël Coward's Mad About the Boy. By rights it should jar, but it feels utterly right and of the moment. There's plenty more like that in a show that eddies and flows like a river, sometimes a whirlpool of movement and at others as quiet and smooth as glass. (Lyn Gardner)
This is Jane Eyre reduced to its essentials then made into something new. The novel is written in the first person, and the act of telling her story becomes, for Jane, one of self-definition. Here there is no sense of Jane the author – nor should there be. Rather than being delivered via stilted monologues, her conflicting thoughts are voiced by three cast members crowding around her, playing out the tension between social constraints and personal fulfilment. Jane’s struggle to assert herself runs through the play, and simple window frames – thrown open, slammed shut – represent freedom and imprisonment.
I don’t remember Jane Eyre being a funny book. Yet in spite of the suppressed pain that dominates much of the story, Cookson’s production draws out an unexpected humour in Felix Hayes’ grumpy Rochester, the choreographed carriage rides and the happy-clappy music for St John Rivers, the clergyman whose marriage proposal must be one of the least romantic in literature.
Four hours of theatre – either in one day or over two – is certainly a commitment, but playgoers who take a risk on the bold, inventive production will find that it offers rich rewards. (Griselda Murray Brown)
Jane is played by the fantastically timid, wonderfully emotive, reassuringly honest Madeleine Worrall. Amazingly, Worrall managed to convincingly portray Jane from child to adult and everything in between. Blessed with the opportunity to play one of our country's finest female heroines, Worrall certainly seized the role with both hands, plucking the heartstrings of every member of the audience.The blogs weston-super-mum street and Madame Guillotine also review the production.
Felix Hayes' Rochester was satisfactory enough to keep the story alive, however, his lack of commitment at times to understanding the truth of Rochester and Jane's situation was evident: merely shouting a line does not mean that we believe he is actually angry.
But my applause at the end of the night was saved for the simply perfect Melanie Marshall. The play's atmosphere was driven entirely by her voice, while that may sound exaggerated, I assure you it is justified.
There are a few cosmetic problems – Edward's portrayal as man-dog Pilot in particular – however, its success lies in its bravery.
Cookson relieves the stage of clutter and allows our imagination to be exercised. It is quite simply a masterful piece of adaptation and in the words of the protagonist herself "I do like it. I DARE to like it!
She’s also first-rate at describing the people who populate that world, particularly the three main characters — the professor; his daughter, Coralie; and Eddie, a young Jewish man who loses his faith when he thinks his orthodox father acted cowardly in the face of lethal union-breaking. They are each so vividly drawn that Hoffman’s cutting from one character to another, and her shifts from first person to third, feel just right. Not only don’t they wear out their welcome, they keep you lusting for the next development. [...]
On the other hand, whether Coralie is Jane Eyre or Jane Austen heroine, she’s a delight. Her joys and sorrows are achingly felt whether it’s at the maltreatment by her father or the hope of a better life with a photographer she stumbles across — that would be our lapsed Jewish friend, Eddie. (Ed Siegel)
You make a point of saying in the episode that Elena and Nicolas were raised like siblings, and yet, I’m thinking there’s going to be romance there. Well, they’re not blood brother and sister. Everything I do now somehow has a Heathcliff motif to it. I was emptying my garage this summer, and I found scripts that I’d forgotten I had written. I reread a couple of them, and they all had that theme of the young boy outsider with a family that takes him in, and then he’s in love with the girl, and then something goes wrong, and I guess, you know, I read Wuthering Heights when I was in middle school or something and it stuck in my head. So, that’s the theme: [Elena] brought him home. He lived with them for a few years, and then he stayed behind with Elena’s uncle when they moved to Texas, and every summer, [Elena's mother] would go back there to visit her sister and brother, and then they’d see him, and so they’ve kept in touch. Drew, Joaquin, and Elena swore that they would take care of each other. He’s in every episode and he’s awesome. And yes, you can expect sparks there, too. (Mandi Bierly)
The fact that Tobor wouldn't reveal his 8th Man alter-ego to Jenny Heartsweet should have told me something. Unlike most toon babes of the time, Jenny had dark hair and a job, and Tobor was always there for her. I thought she was just a stand-in for me (as opposed to the pesky kid Skip who I assumed was a stand-in for pesky kids), but her love went unrequited. Instead, maybe I was Tobor, in the way Cathy in the thrall of a love so uniting declares "I am Heathcliff!" (I refer here to the star-crossed lovers of Wuthering Heights, not the eponymously entitled comic strip girl and cat, because that would be icky.) It's not so farfetched. In one episode, Tobor, going undercover, actually morphs into Jenny. (Devra Maza)The Times publishes the (belated) obituary of the scholar Keith Sagar (1935-2013):
Keith Sagar was a leading scholar of the works of D. H. Lawrence and Ted Hughes, becoming a firm friend and literary confidant of the Yorkshire poet.He was the author of Literature and the Crime Against Nature. From Homer to Hughes (Chaucer Press 2005) which included the chapter Emily Brontë - The Crime Against Heathcliff. Also of an article about Wuthering Heights on the issue 150 of Notes on literature (British Council, 1975).
Keith Sagar was born in 1934 in Bradford where his parents ran a fish and chip shop. The city’s position, only ten miles from Brontë country and some 30 miles or so from that of Ted Hughes, had a formative influence in his upbringing and love of the natural world.