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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Houston Press reviews Alley Theatre's Jane Eyre.
Williamson’s play is unfailingly faithful to its source material while being downright breezy in comparison to the 466-page brick that is Brontë’s novel (that’s 466 pages in my 1993 Barnes & Noble hardcover though, of course, copies may vary). The tightness of the script, a delightfully successful distillation of Jane Eyre to its mostly romantic and occasionally spooky core, is a slap of wrongness to the face of anyone who thinks a work of 19th-century Victorian-era literature wouldn’t make for non-stop action or appease a 21st-century attention span. Director Eleanor Holdridge helms the pleasingly dynamic production with ease. Special credit, too, to Williamson, as well as Holdridge and a superbly talented cast, for mining possibly every moment of humor from the story for our viewing pleasure.
Melissa Molano plays our heroine with delicate care and a firm hand, handling every Janian line with an endearing honesty and earnest sincerity. Though Jane begins the story with no family or friends, the audience serves as something of a surrogate companion, as Jane monologues to the audience. Not only does it stay true to the intimacy of the novel’s first-person narration, it allows Molano’s Jane to become a dear friend almost immediately. It is, however, during the explosion of emotion in the second act, Jane’s moonlight mutiny, that Molano most has the audience in the palm of her hand.
Jane Eyre is a romance, and Molano’s chemistry with Chris Hutchison’s gruff Mr. Rochester is captivating. Hutchison manages to deliver each of Mr. Rochester’s blunt and smart-ass comments with a charm that allows you to appreciate their developing relationship without pause.
Aside from Molano and Hutchison, every actor plays two or more roles, slipping in and out of them with chameleon-like ease: There’s Susan Koozin, who goes from kindly housekeeper to attic-bound madwoman with a zombie-like countenance, and the childlike turn Ana Miramontes takes playing two couldn’t-be-more-different young ladies, the excitable Adèle and the beleaguered young Jane. Melissa Pritchett’s dour Grace Poole, which contrasts with the seemingly well-meaning but stifled Bessie.
Then there’s Joy Yvonne Jones, who earns laughs as the shade-throwing Blanche Ingram just as easily as she does with a single “uh uh” uttered as servant Leah. Todd Waite stealing focus, albeit briefly, as John, Colonel Dent and Mr. Wood, and Gabriel Regojo’s rigid St. John Rivers, though he stands out even more as Jane’s bratty cousin John Reed.
Finally, nothing says both Gothic and an English countryside setting like a stormy night – complete with the sound of pelting rain, blinding white flashes of lightning and loud cracks of thunder – which is exactly what audiences walk into when they take their seats in the Hubbard Theatre. The stage is mostly bare, shrouded in shadows with a single, flickering oil lamp set on a desk, but scenic designer John Coyne quickly proves its dexterity. Valérie Thérèse Bart’s serviceable costumes, Alberto Segarra’s moody lighting and Melanie Chen Cole’s rich sound designs, which range from string heavy instrumentals that set the (metaphorical) stage to one particular cacophonous moment that elicits very real chills.
The point, dear reader, is that Williamson and the Alley have mounted a Jane Eyre production that is very nearly perfect, so much so that you won’t need the threat of failing English class to stay awake through it. Instead, the show comes and goes in a most pleasing blink of an eye, something anyone can appreciate, but especially anyone who’s sat down by desire or coercion to read the 466-page book. (Natalie de la Garza)
Still on stage, GG2 reviews Underdog: The Other Other Brontë.

A critic from The New York Times discusses '‘James,’ ‘Demon Copperhead’ and the Triumph of Literary Fan Fiction'.
The rewriting of old books is hardly a new practice, though it’s one that critics often like to complain about. Doesn’t anyone have an original idea? Can’t we just leave the classics alone?
Of course not. Without imitation, our literature would be threadbare. The modern canon is unimaginable without such acts of appropriation as James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” which deposited the “Odyssey” in 1904 Dublin, and Jean Rhys’s “Wide Sargasso Sea,” an audacious postcolonial prequel to “Jane Eyre.” (A.O. Scott)
According to CBR, both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights deserve to be on the list of 'the 10 Best Dark Romance Movies'.
7 Jane Eyre Is a Haunting Story of Resilience
A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he's hiding a terrible secret.
Jane Eyre is a 2011 adaptation of the 1847 novel by the English writer Charlotte Brontë. Starring Mia Wasikowska and Micheal Fassbender, the story follows the journey of a resilient young woman who's an orphan and finds work as a governess. Her employer is Edward Rochester, a moody and mysterious wealthy man who cultivates a deep curiosity about Jane's defiance and independence.
The central romance between Jane and Mr. Rochester is marked by its complexity and intensity. Their love is born out of mutual respect and connection, but it also faces betrayal and sacrifice. The film is steeped in a gothic atmosphere that mirrors the troubled emotions of the main characters, like the eerie halls of Thornfield Hall. It's a timeless tale of inequality and forbidden love that pays great homage to the legendary English novel. [...]
3 Wuthering Heights Is a Timeless Romantic Tragedy
A poor boy of unknown origins is rescued from poverty and taken in by the Earnshaw family where he develops an intense relationship with his young foster sister, Cathy.
The 2011 film adaptation of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights stars Kaya Scodelario and James Howson as a rebellious couple separated by society's norms. Catherine Earnshaw falls in love with Heathcliff, a boy her father found in the streets of Liverpool and brought to Wuthering Heights. One of the notable aspects of this adaptation is its focus on the passionate and destructive nature of their relationship.
The film's cinematography is strikingly beautiful and heavily contributes to its dark atmosphere. Andrea Arnold's direction emphasizes wide shots and natural lighting to immerse viewers in the character's environment. Their tumultuous relationship is set in the misty landscape of the Yorkshire moors, where there is harsh white fog and sturdy old manor houses. (Arantxa Pellme)
A contributor to Vox writes about 'The unexpected joy of the Squirrel Census'.
Imagining these creatures’ interiority made us better people, too. Not in the sense that it was a badge of hipster honor to have perceived something through a Wes Andersonian lens, but in the sense that creating stories about these animals bonded us to them. The way Rochester felt like there was a string tied under his left ribs that connected him to Jane Eyre, a thin thread now connected us with these beasties we used to simply ignore. (Keren Landman, MD)
Reader's Digest has included Emily Brontë's The Old Stoic on a list of '30 Inspirational Poems That Will Boost Your Mood'. AnneBrontë.org celebrated Charlotte Brontë's birthday at the Brontë Birthplace.


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