Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017 9:41 am by Cristina in , ,    No comments
The Student Newspaper reviews Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre.
This small cast is utilised again in the play’s bold approach to gender. Instead of hiding the fact that many of the actors play a gender different to their own, this play acknowledges and ultimately celebrates it. We see bearded school girls, and St. John (a stock figure of the patriarchy) played by the same actor who had just depicted Bessie (Jane’s childhood nanny and only maternal figure).
The seamlessness with which this is executed is testament to the skill of the production’s actors. Nadia Clifford’s Jane and Evelyn Miller’s multiple roles, from a voice of Jane’s inner conscience to the missionary St. John, stand out as exceptional performances. However, each member of the cast plays an integral part in forming the dynamic on stage which creates the play’s incredible focus on human suffering, emotion and relationships.
The staging throughout the play serves to magnify this. It is a simple wooden structure, but the company transforms it to easily convince us of a young girls’ institution, or, moments later, a stately home. This focus on humanity is what really captures the essence of the Bronte novel. It is the human spirit rather than material wealth or embellishment that is having attention drawn to it, and we see this enacted on stage in the set as well as the acting.
Though described as ‘mad’ by other characters, Melanie Marshall’s Bertha Mason is full of subtlety and sympathy; her sporadic interjections of song highlight Jane’s distress and her own repression. Particularly unexpected, yet hauntingly and astoundingly fitting, was her mournful rendition of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ as Thornfield hall burns down at her hands. It is through the characterisation of Bertha Mason, Sally Cookson’s directing achieves a sympathy that is both emotionally haunting and politically significant.
It is not only through this character that music is employed creatively and carefully. A group of three musicians join the cast on stage at all times, denoting through both lyrics and music the passage of time as Jane travels from one home to the next. This device feels natural; though initially surprising to see instruments on the stage, they quickly became a crucial part of the play’s landscape. Like the other unconventional aspects of this play, it was not hidden, but celebrated.
This production is a stunning achievement. Detail and skill may be at its core, but what marks it as outstanding is its raw empathy and understanding of human suffering. (Rosie Hilton)
The Fountain reviews it too:
Nadia Clifford as Jane runs the whole range from ten-year-old girl through to stubborn, self-realised adult. The other characters are also pretty good: Tim Delap’s Edward Fairfax Rochester falls right next to the crotchety older man of the original text, and all the more believable for it, even if the result is that Jane Eyre strikes further than usual adaptations from straight romance.
Melanie Marshall’s voice as Bertha is undeniably stunning, and a highlight of the play, but the character seems, if not underdeveloped, then misdeveloped: her moments in the spotlight seeming to be focused more on Jane than herself. And sure, Jane is the main character, but add to that the fact that one or two of the dramatic high points seemed like they were cut slightly short so as to fit everything in, it’s a shame that such an important secondary character seemed to have her punches pulled.
Jane Eyre also falls prey to one of my pet theatrical peeves, which seems to be rearing its head in the last few years – the use of one or two contemporary songs in a way that is an unwelcome jolt out of the story. For something so atmospheric, and otherwise with such beautiful composed music throughout, it’s a confusing narrative choice that pulled me out of the story. It’s a rare bum note in a production that is well thought out, emotionally engaging, and a visual effect appreciator’s particular delight. (Fiona Barnett)
Flora Halfhide reviews one of the Edinburgh performances.

Vanity Fair recommends watching Jane Eyre 2011 before it leaves Netflix in June.
Jane Eyre
There are practically as many variations on Jane Eyre as there are wild winds sweeping over the moors in Charlotte Brontë’s indelible classic. But Cary Fukunaga’s 2011 adaptation is a particularly stylish and smoldering entry in the canon, thanks both to the filmmaker’s exquisite eye and the perfect casting of his leading pair, mousy but fierce Mia Wasikowska as governess Jane and Michael Fassbender as her passionate, brooding, Byronic Rochester. (The only real complaint one can make about him is that he’s a little too handsome to play a character Brontë herself described as “very grim” to look at.) Their chemistry alone is worth the price of admission. (Hillary Busis & Joanna Robinson)
Hyperallergic features the work of photographer Deborah Turbeville:
“It is the psychological tone and mood that I work for,” she says in Gross’s book. This began with her game-changing “Bathhouse” series for American Vogue in 1975, in which thin, wan women lean moodily against the spare, cracked walls of an abandoned bathhouse. This series established the ideal Turbeville woman to be mysterious yet romantically isolated, almost like a Brontë heroine, walking with a vulnerable power across decayed, derelict settings. There is a sullen glamour, a weightiness and sadness to these subjects that purposely counters Newton’s or Bourdin’s fantasies. Turbeville showed herself to be a woman who sees women as they are — and often in their darkest moments — not as others dream or desire them to be. (Elyssa Goodman)

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