Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thursday, May 17, 2018 10:55 am by Cristina in , , , , ,    No comments
The Independent gives 4 stars out of 5 to Northern Ballet's Jane Eyre as seen at Sadler’s Wells, London.
Northern Ballet, which has always focused on narrative works, has recently taken a bolder and more varied approach to the stories it tells. Marston’s Jane Eyre moves seamlessly from naturalistic gesture into dance and back again. Like its heroine, it has a stubborn sense of identity.
Screen adaptations of Charlotte Brontë’s novel usually focus on the heroine’s romance with Rochester, just as ballet storytelling tends to head straight for the passionate pas de deux. Marston delivers an intense central relationship, but grounds it in the rest of Jane’s story. Characteristically, the final duet ends with Jane stepping forward into the spotlight, her own woman. [...]
As the orphaned Jane, Brooks-Daw lies stiff on the ground, feet flexed and fists clenched, imagining but also rejecting death. She braces herself against the taunts of her cousins, before being swept off to Lowood School by Mlindi Kulashe’s charismatic but oppressive headmaster. As the other pupils sit hunched on their stools, writing in regimented unison, Jane and her friend Helen Burns stand precariously on theirs, both exposed and defiant.
Patrick Kinmouth’s stylised setting frames the action in bleak moorland colours, while a corps of men both change the scenery and surround Jane, a tide she keeps having to fight against. Philip Feeney’s score incorporates music by Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, alongside Schubert, with darker modern music sweeping over the 19th century melodies at moments of crisis.
Blow’s Jane feels an immediate but conflicted connection with Javier Torres’ charismatic Rochester. Slouched in his armchair, he stretches out a foot to bar her way, imperious but interested. Their duets are full of reversals, a complex power dynamic. One fluid move sees Jane swung up around his shoulders, but ends with Rochester stretched over her thighs.
Even at their cuddliest, in the duet that leads up to the wedding, they’re combative as well as besotted, while Victoria Sibson’s threatening Bertha Mason sidles ever closer.
It’s a vivid performance from the whole company, from the impassioned Blow and Torres to a sharp gallery of supporting roles. (Zoë Anderson)
The Upcoming also gives it 4 stars out of 5.
Jane’s time at Lowood – a charity school for girls – embodies the synchronicity of ballet fittingly, with the dancers slamming their grey slates one by one in rhythmic formation. The chorus of male dancers, aptly named ‘D-Men’, represent Jane’s demons and inner conflicts as they crowd around her. The lead’s clean, swift arabesques and angst-ridden allongé depict her character’s unsettled life with depth and intensity. During these scenes, the older Jane, (Dreda Blow) is behind a screen, still noticeable to the audience.
Kinmonth’s sparse set design and modest costumes reflect Brontë’s novel fittingly, ensuring dancers are seen clearly without scattered props. The protagonist’s friendship with Helen Burns is brief (Kiara Flavin), the closeness poignant, her death as sad as in the novel. With the appearance of Byronic Edward Rochester (Javier Torres), there exists an instant onstage chemistry between him and Jane. His surliness is striking as he stretches out his leg in a pointe, keeping Miss Eyre in his company a little longer. When he arrives after horse riding, an accidental drop of the harness by a member of the chorus is mostly unnoticeable, and quickly corrected, the passing of gear around the chorus cleverly visualised. Blow’s Jane has similar characteristics to Brooks-Daw’s, but her desires intensify with Rochester, unable to keep away from him.
Many of the characters are well cast; alongside the lead couple, the smug Blanche Ingram (Abigail Prudames), the sprightly Adele Varens (Rachael Gillespie) – Jane’s student and Rochester’s ward – and the intimidating performance of Bertha Mason by Victoria Sibson, particularly during the fire scenes, her character given a new sensual representation as she grabs Jane’s wedding veil and entangles it between her legs. St John (Sean Bates) is a tedious character in comparison to the other protagonists, but Carston’s loyalty to the novel doesn’t go amiss, and both parts of the show enthral in their depiction of the heroine’s life.
Feeney’s musical compositions truly lift the piece into more than a dance performance, transcending mediums with Kinmonth’s muted costumes and Carston’s entrancing choreography, the sequences projecting Jane’s story to the forefront, alongside the romantic love story. It is a challenge to translate a beloved 400-page novel into ballet, but the production successfully captures the essence at the core of this classic tale as we see Jane come into her own, stepping away from Rochester in the final scene, facing the audience, strong and determined to find her own path in life. (Selina Begum)
BookRiot is giving away 100 advanced copies of My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (open to U.S. residents only).
A comedic and entirely (but not really) faithful retelling of Jane Eyre!
Jane has endured years of hardship and misery, and is ready to embark on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall.
Charlotte is an aspiring novelist. (Yes, she’s that Charlotte.) And she’s determined to capture her friend Jane’s story even if it means worming her way into the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.
And Alexander, ghost hunter extraordinaire, is about to discover something very disturbing going on at a little place called Thornfield…
Reader, there will be murder. Mayhem. And of course, romance. Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, and a certain Mr. Rochester is hiding more than skeletons in his closets. (María Cristina García Lynch)
This columnist from The Courier-Tribune can't stand lists of books you should read and has an alternative suggestion:
It would be better to have smaller groupings, with books of a certain type together. For instance, all the Victorian novels thrown together in a selection of about 10? Holmes and Watson, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “Dracula” and Dorian Grey all go nicely together in the Whitechapel mists.
Throw the Great White Whale in with a pinch of Twain and “Leaves of Grass” for an American treat. If you wish to spend some time wandering the villas and estates of Georgian England, how about Austen, The Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Ann and Emily) and “Alice in Wonderland”? (Dave Bare)
The Atlantic discusses the class divide and nannies.
The ad is written in flawless, 21st-century business-speak, but what it is really seeking is a governess—that exquisitely contradictory figure in Victorian literature who is both indistinguishable in all outward respects from the upper class and yet emphatically not a member of it. Nanny’s best bet for moving up in the world is probably to follow the example of Jane Eyre and run off with the lord (or lady) of the manor. (Matthew Stewart)
Wine Searcher on wine aficionados playing expert critics.
It's nice to have other peoples' opinions, but if my local book club was doing Wuthering Heights, I'd duct-tape them all up to listen to just 10 minutes of a university professor who'd dedicated his life to the works of the Brontë sisters. (Oliver Styles)
My Jane Eyre Collection examines the information provided by an ex-library copy of the novel.
Finally, the Museum and Heritage Awards took place last night. The Brontë Parsonage Museum shop was nominated under the 'Best Shop turnover less than £500k' and ended up among the Highly Commended. Well done!

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