Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017 9:30 am by Cristina in , , , ,    No comments
Broadway World reviews Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre as seen at the Wales Millennium Centre, giving it 4 stars out of 5.
Michael Vale's set design sets the tone for this exciting and engaging creative spirit with a collection of wooden platforms, ramps, steel ladders and frames. From these, the cast can swing, hang, climb and survey the action from various levels. The continuous movement adds a new dynamic and emotional weight to scenes, and you are often spoilt for choice as to where to look, in the best kind of way. His design is complemented by Aideen Malone's sensitive lighting, which includes a mixture of handheld and beautiful coloured backgrounds.
The crown jewel in the creative choices is Benji Bower's earthy, folk-inspired score. Alex Heane and other musicians are onstage throughout, both sharpening and softening the tone of scenes with remarkable ease, sometimes with just a single note or sound. There are more modern additions, like "Mad About The Boy" and Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" that may feel a little jarring initially, but with Melanie Marshall's ethereal vocal quality, they give the action new depth and intensity.
Heading a strong cast is Nadia Clifford, who captivates as Jane from beginning to end. Her journey from child into womanhood is totally believable and well-rounded, a blend of tenacity, wit and grace that captures the essence of Brontë's heroine perfectly.
Tim Delap is a remarkable Mr Rochester, suitably brooding and abrupt yet managing to infuse his portrayal with moments of great warmth and humour that are a joy to watch. Delap and Clifford are a wonderful match for each other, much like their novel counterparts.
Other members of the cast switch into and shine in multiple roles with remarkable ease, perhaps the most striking being Paul Mundell, who plays Mr Brocklehurst, Mason and even Rochester's dog, Pilot.
The production runs at roughly three hours, shorn down from two parts in the original run at Bristol Old Vic. The level of detail here is astounding, but as is a peril with any adaptation, elements from the original novel are shortened or lost entirely. The most striking here is perhaps Jane's return to Rochester without her discovery of her family or newfound wealth. An important part of her transition into independence, it marks her as his equal and its loss from the production stings a little as perhaps Jane doesn't quite come full circle in her character arc.
In the grand scheme of things, however, any such disappointment is short-lived. Instead of presenting the novel as a straight piece of costume drama, the tried and tested and indeed successful formula, the production focuses more on the central themes and mood. It allows us to look at the familiar anew, and the end result is a passionate, thought-provoking piece of theatre. (Kerrie Nicholson)
Coincidentally, WMC Blog lists '5 reasons to see Jane Eyre'.

Washington Independent Review of Books recommends Sarah Shoemaker's Mr Rochester.
Structured in three parts, Mr. Rochester first explores Edward’s youth: a hard father and mean-spirited brother; an unusual schooling with the eccentric Mr. Lincoln; an apprenticeship with the fatherly Mr. Wilson at Maysbeck Mills; and, finally, the study of law at Cambridge.
The second part relates Edward’s years in Jamaica, where he matures amongst the slave-owning society of sugarcane plantations and marries a wild beauty named Bertha Antoinetta Mason. Like a master puppeteer, Edward’s father makes these life-altering decisions without any consideration for his son’s preferences or desires.
In part three, Edward is finally free to return to England and his beloved Thornfield Hall, ultimately hiring Jane Eyre as governess to a young child he looks after.
It’s a bold task to take on a heroic figure from such a well-loved novel, and it’s easy to imagine fans rejecting any attempt to dabble with a story often read not once but several times. However, readers are safe and well entertained in Shoemaker’s capable hands.
Instead of adopting a more modern style of writing, the cadence and phrasing of the prose are reminiscent of Charlotte Brontë’s, as are the pacing and propensity for description. In Jane Eyre, we have Jane’s strong voice and “dear reader” style — an intimate telling of her life story as though she and the reader are enjoying a cup of tea while they talk — and in Mr. Rochester, Edward adopts a similar style. Readers will also appreciate familiar scenes told through Rochester’s eyes and gain a fresh understanding of Bronte’s heroine.
Historical events play only a minor role in Mr. Rochester, which seems like a missed opportunity. However, as one might expect of a novel set in the early part of the 19th century, matters of class and breeding are featured, as are notions of primogeniture, patriarchy, a woman’s rightful place, dreadful boarding schools, the idle rich, and fortune-seeking young women.
Sarah Shoemaker activates all our senses as we experience alongside Edward the noise and tumult of a woollen mill, the crack of a cat-o’-nine-tails on a sailor’s back, a first taste of grog, a woman’s descent into madness.
Both stories embody gothic and romantic elements involving secrecy and horror along with passionate love. Shoemaker tells Rochester’s story chronologically and, indeed, does not introduce Jane Eyre until three quarters of the way along. The result is a deep understanding of the forces that shaped his character and made him fall in love with Jane.
Mr. Rochester is thoroughly satisfying and creatively imagined. Readers will enjoy Shoemaker’s tale whether they’ve read Jane Eyre or not. (M.K. Tod)
Vintage Books and Anchor Books Reading Group Center picks 7 of their favourite 'Flawed Female Protagonists' and one of them is Catherine Earnshaw.
“It is as if Emily Brontë could tear up all that we know human beings by, and fill these unrecognizable transparencies with such a gust of life that they transcend reality.” —Virginia Woolf
Perhaps the most haunting and tormented love story ever written, Wuthering Heights is the tale of the troubled orphan Heathcliff and his doomed love for Catherine Earnshaw.
Published in 1847, the year before Emily Brontë’s death at the age of thirty, Wuthering Heights has proved to be one of the nineteenth century’s most popular yet disturbing masterpieces. The windswept moors are the unforgettable setting of this tale of the love between the foundling Heathcliff and his wealthy benefactor’s daughter Catherine. Through Catherine’s betrayal of Heathcliff and his bitter vengeance, their mythic passion haunts the next generation even after their deaths. Incorporating elements of many genres—from gothic novels and ghost stories to poetic allegory—and transcending them all, Wuthering Heights is a mystifying and powerful tour de force.
The Yorkshire Evening Post features Healds Hall Hotel, Liversedge, and recalls its past Brontë connection.
If rooms could talk, then those at Healds Hall Hotel in Liversedge would surely have a tale or two to tell. They would babble at the Brontë connections, the Grade II-listing, its past as a school and then as a museum, and then more lately as a restaurant and hotel. This establishment has led a full and varied life since it was built in 1764. [...]
The people behind Healds Hall are either shy or don’t regard their past as being important, which is a shame. Especially when their past is so rich in detail. Perhaps they think mentioning the Brontës would be bragging? Well, they should brag away.
For the uninitiated, here’s a potted history. Healds Hall was built in 1764 and was a private residence for notable locals. In 1795 the Reverend Hammond Roberson bought the property and he was acquainted with Patrick Brontë, father of the famous writers. Charlotte portrayed him in her novel, Shirley, as Parson Helstone.
The OUP Blog lists several summer literary quotes:
From Tennyson’s ‘perpetual summer’ to Charlotte Brontë’s balmy summer evenings, and from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist to the oppressive heat of Shakespeare’s ‘fair Verona’, discover literary summers through the ages… (...)
In Volume 3, Chapter 2, Charlotte Brontë describes Jane Eyre's arrival at Whitcross, Famished, tired, and with no belongings, the summer's night keeps her safe:
"It was dry, and yet warm with the heat of the summer day. I looked at the sky; it was pure: a kindly star twinkled just above the chasm ridge. The dew fell, but with propitious softness; no breeze whispered. Nature seemed to me benign and good: I thought she love me."

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