Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017 7:23 am by Cristina in , , , , , ,    No comments
The Herald (Scotland) gives 5 stars to Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre.
On designer Michael Vale's set of wooden platforms and catwalks, Nadia Clifford's furious Jane is shunted from pillar to post in a show as restless in its execution as Jane's own journey. Her brutalised childhood as an orphan hungry for knowledge is illustrated by a cast of nine, who morph from bullying family members to religiously oppressed pupils of the school where Jane is exposed to even more of life's cruelties. [...]
Brontë's constant theme of how independent women are locked up is made explicit. This is indicated both by the scarlet lighting that illustrates Jane's early incarceration, and in the operatic gospel sung by Melanie Marshall as Bertha, the first Mrs Rochester, which sits alongside Benji Bower's live chamber jazz score and a couple of knowing contemporary pop numbers. [...]
 The end result is a fearless and unmissable whirlwind of a show. (Neil Cooper)
All Edinburgh Theatre reviews it too, giving it 4 stars out of 5 and deeming it 'Pure Theatre'.
Nadia Clifford’s Jane is always going to be at the centre of things, and hers is a characterisation of suitable contradictions – sometimes supremely poised, sometimes the servant of unfettered emotion, but never the weak, subordinate character some adaptations turn her into. It is an extremely impressive display that contrasts beautifully with some of the more expansive turns around her – notably Paul Mundell’s scarily comic teacher Mr Brocklehurst, and his wonderful turn as Pilot the dog.
Of necessity, there is a great deal of doubling among the cast, with Evelyn Miller and Francesca Tomlinson (standing in for Hannah Bristow at this performance) particularly good at differentiating their roles without exaggerating them. Singularly impressive is the way they give life to those people who seem unfathomable to modern audiences – Tomlinson’s doomed, saintly Helen Burns, and Miller’s pious missionary St John Rivers.
Any portrayal of Mr Rochester has inherent problems, particularly in a production that stresses the equal-rights themes inherent in the story as clearly as this does. Rather than seeing him though Jane’s eyes, as the book’s first-person narrative makes us do, we actually witness what he does and says, running the risk of him appearing more of a self-justifying brute than a swoonsome Byronic hero. Tim Delap walks a very fine line successfully, making Rochester much more human and aware of his fallibility than we might be used to.
Constant use is made of music both ancient and modern, with Melanie Marshall’s Bertha often providing songs that comment on and inform the action, in a way that is allusive and effective. Her voice is supremely affecting and utterly without histrionics.
There are wonderful coups de theatre here – some full of drama, others beautifully understated, such as when Aideen Malone’s lighting – exemplary throughout – is used to show children warming themselves around a fire.
Not surprisingly in such an open-hearted production, its faults are not exactly concealed. The most obvious is its sheer length. Distilled from an original two-part adaptation, it clocks in at just over three hours, and it certainly begins to drag a little towards the end of each act.
There is an almost desperate attempt to give a flavour of every part of the book. There are plenty of over-faithful touring adaptations of classic novels that seem to be designed as cribsheets for exam students more than anything else; this is not one of those, and so a little more could have been jettisoned.
Whatever the verve and invention of the staging, it does become subject to the law of diminishing returns; the music, in particular, starts to feel overused. There are odd moments of over-assertive exposition that are completely unnecessary when it is so often so good at telling the story more obliquely. Using members of the cast to voice Jane’s inner thoughts or conscience, for example, is amusing the first time but annoying thereafter.
There is also the odd moment of overt humour that feels forced, as do some of the more prosaically physical staging choices. These are few and far between, in a refreshing production that – at its best – is a shot of pure theatre. (Hugh Simpson)
The List, however, gives it only 2 stars out of 5 and finds it 'disappointing'.
Using a style familiar from other large scale adaptations – such as Kneehigh's Rebecca – Jane Eyre mixes a live musical score and physical theatre interludes, with an ensemble switching between roles. This allows the production to cover large swathes of the narrative, but does not lend itself to either dramatic set-pieces or deeper reflections. Christianity is given a contemporary critique – God, says Jane, is a loving tyrant and His agents are hypocritical or passive-aggressive – and Jane herself is feisty. Yet a key concern – how acceptable is it for a man to lock his mentally ill wife in the attic until she conveniently kills herself? – is never questioned.
The liveliness of the cast and the moments of inventions – such as when the ensemble become Jane's interior monologue – are undermined by the number of flaccid scenes and stock characters, as well as the set's disappointing flat-pack aesthetic. In attempting to broaden Jane's story, and add it a modern edge, the National Theatre/Bristol Old Vic collaboration forgets to develop a coherent and dramatic focus. (Gareth K Vile)
Bouquets and Brickbats reviews it too and fives it 5 stars.

Business Insider has an article on the '10 benefits of reading that will make you more employable' and we were pleasantly surprised to see The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as a recommendation.
2. Your vocabulary is richerThis may be taken for granted, but if you read regularly and read a wide variety of styles, you will learn new words and you will have the confidence to use them. Again, strong communication skills and the ability to voice your thoughts in an effective way is a crucial tool for any potential employee to have under their belt.
What book do we recommend?The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ - Anne Brontë. Classic fiction that feels current and as important as ever, the novel traces the story of Helen Huntingdon (the titular tenant) and is as heartbreaking as it is empowering. (Helena Roots)
BBC Radio 6 wonders, 'Which books do musicians love to read?'
Laura Marling is a lover of the classics and she named Jane Austen and The Brontë Sisters as her favourite authors when she was asked about her reading habits by The Guardian in 2008.
But Laura didn't fall for the apparent romance of their work, oh no.
"They're always made out to be so sweetly romantic, but they're not - they're brutal," she said.
"I love the way you can fall in love with a piece of literature; how words alone can get your heart doing that."
More on musicians and literature, as Vice's Noisey has an article on John Darnielle.
Over the phone from his home in Durham, North Carolina, Darnielle is quite candid about his teenage past. Though he doesn't admit to being an erstwhile goth. He prefers the term "death rocker."
"On the West Coast, the term 'death rock' was floating around in the ether. Nobody really used 'goth,'" he says. "[In 1983] there weren't any bands saying, 'Oh yes, we play death rock.' But I liked that term a lot. I was 16 years old and I loved that the word 'death' was right there up front. Who has never been 16 and not thought that was cool stuff to be thinking about? To me, goth was Wuthering Heights, and I was more into gore. I wanted stuff that had death in it, not people that faint. [Laughs] But goth was also Bram Stoker, and Dracula is kind of ground zero for goth." (Cam Lindsay)
Bustle lists '9 Books To Read When You Need A Break And A Little Time To Disconnect' and one of them is Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair:
8 'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde
For an entirely different kind of mystery novel, how about the adventures of Thursday Next, literary detective? This is about as escapist as escapist fiction can get: a woman in an alternate version of England who has the ability to jump into books and hang out with literary characters. It's sort of like Douglas Adams meets Charlotte Brontë, in the best possible way. (Charlotte Ahlin)
European Business Express has an article on the Culloden Hotel Estate and Spa in Northern Ireland and we find this Brontë mention extremely confusing:
Strategically positioned artworks, ornate mirrors, chess boards, and furniture that would throw the Antiques Roadshow into a spin are tastefully selected. One such piece is of Anne and Maria Brontë. The Brontë sisters had a strong County Down connection, they had good taste. (Sarah-Jayne Smith)

We are back on familiar ground here: The Spectator has a letter from a reader on the 'Japanese Brontë fever' as the letter is summed up.
Sir: Gary Dexter rightly draws attention to the close linguistic relationship between Japan and the United Kingdom, but misses one set of authors on whom the Japanese dote (‘Found in translation’, 13 May). Here in Haworth, we get so many visitors from Japan who come for the Brontë connections that it has been judged necessary to put many of the signposts in both English and Japanese. Coach-loads of Japanese visitors throng my local to enjoy the language and the food. Occasionally I’ve even been bought a pint by some of the more expert visitors, who often want a translation of the Yorkshire dialect, particularly from Wuthering Heights, and to hear it spoken. The whole business is an honour for us and it seems to be a delight for them.
David Pearson
Haworth, West Yorkshire
Writergurlny reviews Sarah Shoemaker's Mr Rochester.


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