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Monday, April 15, 2024

The Guardian's week in theatre included Underdog: The Other Other Brontë, giving it only 2 stars.
Underdog: The Other Other Brontë is part of another new theatrical surge: remaking the idea of what were once considered bonneted authors. Isobel McArthur’s Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) squinnied at Jane Austen’s heroines from the servants’ point of view; Zoe Cooper recently detected a queer strain in Northanger Abbey.
Sarah Gordon’s new play takes on the Brontë sisters: their lives rather than the works. Thirteen years ago, Northern Broadsides and Blake Morrison put a Chekhovian spin on parsonage life in We Are Three Sisters. Gordon’s emphasis is plainer: the restrictions of the times (which required the authors to publish under male names) are cudgelled home but the sensibility is utterly 21st-century: knowing and no-holds-barred.
Charlotte, legs planted firmly apart in her scarlet dress, commands sister Anne to stop writing “this shit”. Her biographer Elizabeth Gaskell bustles in like a pantomime dame. Sibling rivalry is at full roar with Charlotte nicking Anne’s novel idea. A gaudy lineup of literary figures in whiskers and top hats caper self-importantly. Charlotte climbs into a glass case to be exhibited.
Natalie Ibu’s strenuously comic production gets lively perfs from Rhiannon Clements as Anne, dubbed a mouse but wild with her pen, Adele James as vibrant Emily, and Gemma Whelan as domineering Charlotte (who also gets a kicking in the 2022 film Emily). It’s a relief to be free of wuthering and piety. Yet where in this mechanical modernisation is the imaginative power that makes the sisters worth attending to? These Brontës are not other enough. (Susannah Clapp)
A contributor to Her Campus picks up on the concept of 'the other other Brontë' and takes a look at Anne's work.
All three sisters were radical and controversial for their time. The Brontë’s works have been studied for centuries for their progressive and strong female protagonists and due to the sisters’ pioneering success as female writers in the Victorian Era. Each of their books were commended upon publication before becoming subject to controversy once people started to suspect that the authors, who wrote under the male pseudonyms of the ‘Bell Brothers’, were in fact women. The themes tackled in the sisters’ works were said to be “unseemly” for women. Jane Eyre’s desire for independence and freedom challenged expectations of female behaviour in the 19th century, and the immoral, vengeful love between Heathcliff and Cathy (Wuthering Heights) was similarly criticised. But it was Anne’s novel, with its focus on domestic abuse and marital violence, that caused the greatest stir amongst Victorian readerships. Critics deemed Tenant coarse and vulgar, with Charlotte Brontë calling her sister’s novel “an entire mistake”[1]. Tensions between the eldest and youngest sister were explored within the National Theatre’s play, explaining how Anne’s works were regularly undermined by her sister, leading to Charlotte taking Anne’s work out of publication after her death. Attitudes towards Anne’s work and the diminishment of her talent explains why her novels are less well-known than those of her sisters.
Despite the criticism, Anne remained steadfast, reflecting her headstrong character. In the preface of Tenant, she wrote ‘I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be […] I am at a loss to conceive […] why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.’. Anne’s clearly evident strength and fight for respect contradict persisting depictions of her as the quiet, passive, and ladylike sister. Modern day feminists have recognised the power of the youngest sister’s writing in its exposition of the misogyny and abuse which women were subject to at the time. Her novels are being studied more today, finally receiving the recognition that they deserve as perhaps the most radical works of the Brontë sisters. If you too want to discover more about the lesser known Brontë, head to the National Theatre before the 25th of May to witness a breathtaking depiction of the sisters’ lives. Or even better, give Anne’s novels a read and decide for yourself: what do you think of the Other Other Brontë’s works? (Grace Moran)
Daily Mail shares an excerpt from David Nicholls's forthcoming novel You Are Here.
She felt better on the train, the first of the day, claiming her forward-facing window-seat with table: the dream. Now she was an executive, laying out her laptop, pen and notepad, charging her devices unnecessarily, because this was the key to surviving in the wild, charging devices and using a toilet whenever the chance arose. She laid out her ancient copy of Wuthering Heights, which she’d brought to get in the mood, and now the train crawled out into the light, emerging behind the terraces of Mornington Crescent, an address that still retained an atmosphere of old kitchen-sink films, sad, shabby love stories, the kind she’d aspired to when she’d first moved to the city. She saw closed shutters and grimy curtains, imagined new lovers slumbering in rented rooms. Then, above the terraces, came a knife of brilliant blue and she felt sorry for anyone who was still in bed.
Collider ranks 'The 10 Best Gothic Romance Movies' including
9 'Jane Eyre' (2011)
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Next up, also starring the talented Wasikowska, is Cary Fukunaga's adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel of the same name. Jane Eyre follows the titular character as she becomes a governess, ending up meeting the cold and abrupt Mr. Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender) at her new position at Thornfield Hall. As the bond between the two grows, Jane finds herself falling for Rochester. But will his terrible secret destroy their relationship forever?
Not mentioning Jane Eyre on such a list would be a huge omission; like its source material, Fukunaga's film is delightfully Gothic and Victorian, featuring religion, supernatural encounters, obscure secrets, and spirituality, in addition to its message about gender roles, society, and class. Jane Eyre may not be a note-perfect period drama, but it is a great effort in the Gothic subgenre. [...]
4 'Wuthering Heights' (1939)
Director: William Wyler
This eight-time Academy Award-nominated feature by William Wyler has captured the attention of many, and understandably so. Adapted from the Emily Brontë novel of the same name, Wuthering Heights tells the tale of two lovers, Cathy and Heathcliff (played by Merle Oberon and Sir Lawrence Olivier respectively) who are forced to go separate ways due to prejudice and circumstances. At some point in their adult life, however, their paths cross again when Heathcliff returns with a self-made fortune. However, he realizes he may have lost Cathy in his absence.
Wuthering Heights is often regarded as a masterpiece in romantic filmmaking, with many people still believing it stands the test of time today. It's not difficult to grasp that, just like the book it was based on, Wyler's film is an essential Gothic romance movie, especially when considering all the supernatural elements that it utilizes, such as ghosts and hallucinations, and the eerie, atmospheric scenario the story is set in. (Daniela Gama)
AnneBrontë.org has a post on old Thornton.


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