Monday, June 25, 2018

Monday, June 25, 2018 10:27 am by Cristina in , , , ,    No comments
Stratford Beaconherald reviews Stratford Festival's production of Brontë: The World Without.
Even with a stellar three-member cast pulling out all the stops to realize the ambitions of playwright Jordi Mand, Brontë: The World Without ultimately comes off as a well-intentioned production with lofty goals – a mixed blessing that just misses the mark.
In itself, the playwright’s desire to reimagine the lives of 19th Century English novelists and poets Charlotte, Emily and Anne (to a somewhat lesser extent) Brontë is laudable, truly worthy of unique theatrical and historic examination. Sadly, this was an era in which motivated and talented women in all walks of life, with or without social status or money, were simply ignored. [...]
While unquestionably a talented writer, though less acclaimed than either Charlotte or Emily, sister Anne is likely the Brontë posing the greater challenges for an actor tasked with the role of her portrayal. So Andrea Rankin deserves high marks for her oft-times boisterous and lively performance, exhibiting qualities befitting a younger woman.
Rankin may appear at times relegated to an easy chair off to the side and far from centre-stage activity, but her presence is nonetheless always felt. Closer to Emily, she is still very much a pivotal character central to the exploration of the Brontë mystique.
With the use of effective albeit slow pacing, director Vanessa Porteous capably guides the trio through the play’s five key moments between January 1846 and January 1849, dates marking specific events relevant both to their lives and career aspirations. The blend is one mixing perfunctory scenes of tribulations and accomplishments.
Mand unquestionably did a masterful and extensive job of research, unearthing intriguing aspects showcasing the Brontë women’s lives, examining the socio-economic constraints of 19th century while dutifully reminding today’s audiences of just what brilliance existed within the walls of this rather bland little family home in Haworth in the west riding of Yorkshire.
There are, however, several fronts on which the production falls short. For example, the reliance upon the location of one meagre, functionally furnished family room, wherein the scenes of the greatest activity range from frantically penning their work on available chairs, chesterfields and even the floor to jostling about frantically to see who will open various rejection or acceptance letters that arrive in the post.
Sequences of drinking seemingly endless cups of very weak tea, judiciously dividing the occasional sweet cake amongst the three, delving into despair over self-doubt and worrying about the state of Branwell’s declining health and their father Patrick’s medical issues accounts for much of the focus, perhaps too much so.
So one wonders about some missed opportunities along the way: perhaps offering a greater insight into Charlotte’s motivation for Jane Eyre; occasionally shifting the locale outdoors to the wild moors where Emily would often wander to commune with nature or even revealing – possibly through imaginative supposition – just how she created the infamous Heathcliff, the “monster” of her Wuthering Heights.
Although musical interludes featuring works from modern composers like Regina Spektor were welcome and appropriate, given the subject matter, decreasing the decibel level and the length of each number was in order to provide a complement to the dialogue rather than a fill-in for those moments of silence.
Brontë: The World Without is an adventurous, though not fully realized outing exploring a unique cultural phenomenon featuring a talented cast, director and playwright. Even with its hits and misses, the production is still worthy of a night out at the Studio Theatre, particularly for those eager to take another look at these three fascinating sisters. (Geoff Dale)
Another look into the lives of the Brontës is the book Infernales, la hermandad Brontë by Laura Ramos summed up today by El litoral (Argentina).

El Periódico (Spain) comments on the fact that orphanhood is a literary gold mine.
La orfandad es un filón literario. El Mowgli de Kipling, el Twist de Dickens, el Mishkin de Dostoievski, la Eyre de Brontë, los hermanos Bartra de Marsé… También el apócrifo Lazarillo de Tormes y el Potter de Rowling. Maltratados, desamparados, los huérfanos se enfrentan con angustia a un mundo incomprensible, hostil o aterrador. Personajes literarios magnéticos, sus odiseas iniciáticas han conmovido a millones de lectores. (Translation)
Press Herald reviews the novel Tangerine by Christine Mangan, who
plays with familiar tropes, but she deploys them with wit, insight and precision. She hides some literary Easter eggs in her prose, including tips of the hat to the Brontes, to Shirley Jackson (penning tales of paranoia back in Vermont), and to expatriate writer Paul Bowles, author of “The Sheltering Sky.” (Michael Berry)
And just so you know, Mystic Medusa claims that,
Charlotte Bronte had her Moon/Saturn conjunct the Pluto of Mary Shelley. 
Blue Mountains Gazette tells how 'Woodford gets ready to host Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever' while Mirror shares previously unseen pictures of Kate Bush taken at the time of her Wuthering Heights success (or rather 1980). And finally, 'Wellington, Waterloo and the Brontës' on AnneBrontë.org.

Finally, yesterday's BBC Radio 3's Words and Music included some poetry by Emily Brontë
The Mighty Oak. With texts by Shakespeare, A A Milne, Emily Brontë and Samantha Harvey read by Siân Phillips and Joseph Mydell. Music includes works by Verdi, Smetana and Britten.


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