Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday, September 19, 2015 2:07 pm by M. in , , , , , ,    No comments
More reviews of the Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre production at the National Theatre (Picture Credits: Madeleine Worrall as Jane Eyre. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian):
5 out of 5 stars according to What's On Stage:
Sally Cookson and co's devised version, condensed from its two-part incarnation at Bristol Old Vic last year, trades in feeling and mood and images: all the things that make theatre theatre. Their Jane Eyre is made of colour and music and light and bodies. You watch it with your skin. You think it with your stomach. You sense it. You feel it. You soak it in. (...)
At three hours long, it's a show that both takes its time and goes at a clip. Key plot points get whisked into the full sweep of the story, and, with Dan Canham's fluid movement direction, it's almost like an extended montage. The iconic bedroom blaze, for example, gets as much stage time as Jane's pacing back and forth in silence. Both are as integral as each other and that's the secret to this thrilling and utterly theatrical adaptation – a corrective to anyone who ever thought the Brontës were boring. (Matt Trueman)
The Telegraph gives it 4 out of 5 stars:
This is a production full of intelligent detail - from the use of multiple voices to deliver Jane’s agonised internal monologues to Melanie Marshall’s expressive, sung performance as Rochester’s mad wife, Bertha.
Original, engaging and unexpectedly funny, it slightly overdoes the emotional restraint: Worrall’s Jane is admirably feisty, though less assured in tender moments. But on the whole, this is an adaptation that Charlotte Brontë herself might have approved. (Jane Shilling)
Financial Times publishes another positive (4 out of 5 stars) review:
“It’s a girl.” These are not the words that open Charlotte Brontë’s great novel, but they do open Sally Cookson’s inspired reworking for stage. It’s a move both bold and true: for the condition of being female boxes Jane in throughout her life. Her desire for freedom, her irrepressible intelligence and fearless honesty drive this witty, impassioned, spring-heeled staging that takes liberties with the text, but keeps faith with its spirit and its irresistible heroine. (...)
Through it all moves Madeleine Worrall as Jane: a superb, unaffected performance that conveys her feistiness, her integrity and her vulnerability. (...)
There are losses. You miss Brontë’s brilliant evocation of place. And because the show, first seen at Bristol Old Vic (co-producers), has been trimmed down, some episodes are taken at such a gallop that they become mawkish or empty, while some key moments race past or lose tension. But still, this intelligent, exhilaratingly theatrical response is like meeting an old friend and seeing them afresh. (Sarah Hemming)
Another 4 out of 5 review is The Evening Standard one:
One of the many advantages of Cookson’s devised ensemble style is that it allows us to be privy to the psychological anguish and conflicting voices, of doubt and jealousy and pride, in Jane’s head, as her feelings for the mercurial Mr Rochester (Felix Hayes) start to unspool. Another boon is the prime role afforded to music. An onstage band is placed decisively in the centre of the action and it’s an inspired move to give voice — literally — to that always troubling figure of Bertha Mason, the so-called “mad woman in the attic”, by having her haunt the action in song. Melanie Marshall excels in this striking, plaintive role and Mad about the Boy is an unsurpassable choice for the time when Rochester flirts with flighty Blanche Ingram (Simone Saunders) while Jane hovers anxiously, indecisively, around them. (Fiona Montford)
The Londonist shares the same 4/5 stars:
The only thing that Sally Cookson's current production of Jane Eyre at the National Theatre shares with its source novel's period is the costumes. All the rest — stage setting, script and the acting itself — resembles a piece of avant-garde, contemporary theatre.
At first glance, we're surprised and intrigued by the set: an intricate structure made of wood blocks and iron stairs (you can get an idea with the picture above). Then, the cast: formed of seven actors and three musicians, they interchange roles and run energetically around the stage for the whole duration while the focus remains on Jane — a small, plucky and quite indomitable Madeleine Worrall. We're fascinated by her talent of embodying different phases of Jane's life, from her birth (she opens the play wailing like a baby), through a difficult childhood and finally to adulthood, where she finds love in the person of Mr Rochester — played by a stark, imposing and quite funny Felix Hayes. (Sivia Baretta)
Another 4/5 is given by this Time Out reader.

The Guardian is a bit less enthusiastic. But still a good review (3 stars out of 5):
Acclaimed last year at the Bristol Old Vic, this company-devised version of Charlotte Brontë’s novel has shed over an hour of playing time on its transfer to the National theatre in London. That may explain why, although Sally Cookson’s production is full of wit, resource and invention, and went down a storm with the audience, watching it feels like speedreading a great book.
All adaptations of classic novels sacrifice gradations of time and the authorial voice: here we have no sooner met Jane’s divine childhood friend, Helen Burns, than she is dead, and only readers of the novel get to learn that Mr Brocklehurst, the brutal boss of Lowood School, had a heart “made up of equal parts whalebone and iron”. But, even if a running time of 3hr 15min only permits a headlong rush through the novel, there is much to admire in the staging. (...)
The whole is done, under Cookson’s direction, with great elan. But if I couldn’t join in the final cheers, it is because this kind of hectic abridgement offers a demonstration of theatrical skill rather than the moving accumulation of detail you get in great fiction. (Michael Billington)
The Pool interviews the director Sally Cookson:
The Pool: When Did You First Read Jane Eyre? ( Lynn Enright)
Sally Cookson: Well, my first experience of Jane Eyre was a BBC television adaptation when I was a kid, so I just remember the costumes and the passionate love affair and it being slightly naff. Then I read it when I was at drama school, I must have been just barely 20. And I was sort of beguiled by the, I suppose if I’m honest, by the romance of it. It wasn’t until I read it in my thirties that I was struck by the feminist manifesto that is so well written about.
And then when I came to it in middle age knowing that I wanted to turn it into a piece of theatre I again saw something else; it’s one of those books that is so multifaceted, every time you read it and whoever you are at different phases in your life, you get something else out of it. Like now, what strikes me about the book is the weight placed on individual human rights; I think Jane is a character who understands fundamentally the importance of nourishment in life. Unless you are nourished and fed, not just physically but emotionally and intellectually, you will not thrive as a human. (Read more)
Finally, the Official London Theatre adds:
More than 173,404 words of descriptive first person Victorian narrative translated for the stage; it doesn’t necessarily sound like an exciting prospect, but this is a rare theatrical event that shouldn’t be missed.
With Cookson at the helm, Brontë’s tale is an imaginative feast offering striking movement direction, stunning music and a tiered set that helps convey Jane’s fight against patriarchal domination. It also remains faithful to the original story. What more could you want in a Jane Eyre adaptation? Book your tickets now… (Kate Stanbury)
The New Zealand Herald reviews Nelly Dean by Alison Case:
The characters of Cathy and Heathcliff, Isabella and Edgar, are not fully fleshed out, perhaps fairly, as they have had their day, and this is Nelly's story, but a reader unfamiliar with the original story might find the motivation - especially for Heathcliff's absconding and Isabella's later elopement with him - hard to follow.
The death of Cathy and the return of Heathcliff to Wuthering Heights slip by in a couple of pages of this thickish book, while pages and pages are dedicated to Nelly's description of nursing a lamb.
As an attempt to do justice by Nelly this is an interesting take on Bronte's book, and this book's housekeeper is a worthy heroine. But because of those gaps in the storytelling there is not enough to fully satisfy either a Heights aficionado or someone who 'as niver opened t'book. (Isobel Marriner
Financial Times reviews Noonday by Pat Barker:
Even Bertha Mason, the spirit-medium, a “grotesque Persephone”, who as well as her name shares an ample dose of insightful craziness with Jane Eyre’s Mrs Rochester, helps Paul to lay his ghosts to rest. (Rebecca Abrams)
Another review. On Popmatters, Annie Barrows's The Truth According to Us:
The Romeyn family is, to say the least, a bit quirky. Felix, the patriarch of the family, is often charming but is also a womanizing bootlegger. His daughter Willa is a precocious book-loving pre-teen who provides readers with fun little snippets like: “If Jane Eyre had only looked around a little, she might have saved herself a lot of heartache”. (Catherine Ramsdell)
The Telegraph reviews the upcoming film Miss You Already:
Milly gets an affair halfway through with a hot barman (US rocker Tyson Ritter), and this is more like it: we’re being adult enough to admit that sex matters even to the dying, and Collette plays this fling with the reckless abandon of a last hurrah. Next up, she drags Jess to the Yorkshire Moors under false pretences – they’re both big fans of Wuthering Heights – and their drunken cliff-edge rendition of R.E.M.’s Losing My Religion is another box ticked, a bucket-list moment they didn’t know was coming. Finally we buy into them here as believable friends doing believably embarrassing things. (Tim Robey)
We may be mistaken but we think that this article in The Atlantic misses the whole point in what really is to do research:
What does one do with a resume consisting of treatises on, say, Victorian novels other than to teach others about that topic, to continue a life trajectory already devoted to spending one’s days analyzing and debating Dickens and Brontë? And while it’s true that some Ph.D.s do find soft landings in other careers, rarely do those careers require a 200-page dissertation and extensive knowledge of fascist ideology in the interwar years in Germany—accomplishments that have probably consumed years of a given Ph.D.s life. (Laura McKenna)  
As with many other things, it's not really the final product what is important, but the journey.
NPR reviews the Kate Beaton's new book Step Aside, Pops:
But she also brings her deadpan humor to bear on pop culture old and new: from broadside ballad illustrations and Wuthering Heights to Janet Jackson videos, her commentary's as instructive as it is hilarious. (Amal El-Mohtar)
The Australian reviews Something for the Pain. A Memoir of the turf by Gerald Murnane:
Murnane likens his relationship to colour to that of Marcel Proust’s narrator in Remembrance of Things Past, who “associates the vowel sounds in certain place names with distinctive colours or shades’’. A photograph of Proust (with whom Murnane has also been compared) was one of three pinned above his desk when he taught writing at a college of advanced education in Melbourne in the mid-1980s. The other two were of Emily Brontë and Bernborough, the Toowoomba tornado who thrilled racegoers in the mid-1940s and remains Murnane’s favourite horse. “Orange, purple sleeves, black cap,’’ he notes automatically. (Stephen Romei)
The Millions posts about The Double Life of Liliane by Lily Tuck:
Liliane’s story proceeds, for the most part, chronologically — from that eight-year-old child to a Harvard student — but Tuck enlivens her narrative by regularly breaking off and changing tack, using tangents, flashbacks, fast-forwards, and stories within stories to give us a fuller, more complex but also more interesting picture. In addition to regular flits between New York and Rome, we accompany Liliane on trips to Peru and Maine. In Capri she looks for Elsa Morante but instead meets her husband Alberto Moravia. Over the years she learns horse-riding and ballet, begins a novel about Heathcliff’s years away from Wuthering Heights, is afflicted by nightly terrors and her stepfather’s nocturnal visits, and spends days with school friends, grandmothers, besotted older men, and her father’s mistresses. (Malcolm Forbes)
Vulture interviews the actor Paul Hiddleston:
Do you have any qualms about doing nudity? (Jada Yuan)
I don’t, particularly. If it’s justified in the storytelling, I absolutely have no problem with it. That’s sort of my condition, if I can see where it fits into the story. In fact, in Crimson Peak, I really pitched for that scene because it’s about the twin energies of sexuality and violence, these polar opposites. Gothic romance is actually all about sex and death, and there’s always an undertone, whether it’s Northanger Abbey or Jane Eyre or The Castle of Otranto.
Ángeles Caso's novel on the Brontës, Todo ese Fuego is presented in several Spanish newspapers. La Nueva España goes further and publishes an article summarizing the Brontë story:
En lo más alto del pueblo de Haworth, al norte de Inglaterra, entre el cementerio y el paisaje rocoso de los páramos, se levanta una casa de ladrillo oscuro con dos hileras de ventanas blancas. Una vivienda firme y sobria, construida a finales del siglo XVIII para ser el hogar de los pastores anglicanos del lugar. Entre 1820 y 1855, en ese edificio discreto ocurrió un hecho excepcional: allí vivieron y crearon sus obras, escondidas del mundo, tres mujeres geniales, las hermanas Brontë, Charlotte, Emily y Anne. (Read more) (Translation)
The writer is interviewed in El Mundo (Spain):
¿Por qué dejó de vivir en directo? (Rafael J. Álvarez)
Nunca me gustó la televisión. Era todo falso. Aquella yo maquillada, peinada... Nunca me maquillé, nunca fui a la peluquería, era una joven salvaje. No me gustaba que me reconociesen por la calle. Me gusta la vida secreta, como a las Brontë. Me gusta la vida en diferido y a oscuras.
El Heraldo de Aragón or La Verdad also talk about the novel:
Caso ha declarado que este libro es un "homenaje a estas mujeres", a las que califica de "excepcionales", así como "valientes", pero también "impresionantes" y de "talento enorme". Caso define a las hermanas Brontë como unas mujeres que estuvieron "en contra del mundo, de las costumbres sociales y de las normas del momento", en el que las mujeres no tenían voz propia, eran sumisas y obedientes.
La escritora ha afirmado que sentía una gran admiración por estos personajes históricos, de los que leyó sus novelas, sus biografías y sus estudios críticos.
Según relata, decidió dedicarles una novela tras casi tres años de documentación y después de quedarse impresionada tras visitar su casa-museo. Asimismo, señala que "no se sabe tanto sobre la vida de las Brontë". (Translation)
Página 12 vindicates the writer Dorothy Richardson 1873 - 1957,
Si bien es cierto que las voces de Richardson tenían mucho en común con el pasado, con aquellos pensamientos ensañados o, a su manera, salmodiosos y cautos, con un ruego a medida de la biblia del rey Jacobo y otro capaz de despertar en las alturas a alguna de las hermanas Brontë, también es cierto que ya habían sido domesticados y puestos en jaulas por Thackeray y Trollope. (Marisa Avigliano)
Fotogramas (Spain) lists six 'heights' films:
Cumbres Borrascosas 1939. Ey, su propio título lo indica. Son cumbres y son borrascosas. ¿Te parece que lo que ocurre en ellas no contiene la suficiente acción para entrar en esta lista? ¿Estás diciendo que la intensidad huracanada del romance más importante de la literatura occidental no es suficiente acción para ti? ¿Que Kathy (sic) arrojándose a los brazos de Heathcliff no tiene la misma fuerza o el mismo peligro que Cruise escalando un rascacielos? Háztelo mirar. (Noel Ceballos) (Translation)


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