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24th September 2019 - 28th September 2019
Blackeyed Theatre in association with South Hill Park Arts Centre presents
A World Premiere
by Charlotte Brontë
Adapted for the Stage by Nick Lane
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will”
In Autumn 2019, Blackeyed Theatre brings to the stage a brand new adaptation of one of the greatest works of English fiction, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
A gothic masterpiece of tempestuous passions and dark secrets, Jane Eyre tells the thrilling story of an orphan girl and her journey from a childhood of loneliness and cruelty to a life at Thornfield Hall and an unlikely relationship with the mysterious Mr Rochester. Falling in love, she gradually uncovers a hidden past to the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall, a terrible secret that forces her to make a heart-wrenching choice.
Don’t miss Blackeyed Theatre’s brand new stage adaptation of one of the greatest works of English fiction. Captivating, brooding and intensely powerful, Jane Eyre is a moving and unforgettable portrayal of one woman’s quest for equality and freedom, and lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling.
“One of the most innovative, audacious companies working in contemporary English Theatre” – The Stage
Recommended for age 11+
Running time: approx. 2 hours 40 minutes, including interval.
Production photographs © Alex Harvey-Brown.
Choice Radio Worcester
In their second visit to the area, having previously brought "Sherlock Holmes - The Sign Of Four" to both Worcester and Malvern, Blackeyed Theatre is back with their own adaptation of Jane Eyre. And if you saw their previous show, you know you are in for something rather special. And if not, prepare yourself for a treat as the company are very adept at putting on high quality and inventive theatre with a relatively small cast. Indeed, in this play, there are 16 characters handled by a cast of just 5, who also play all the music in the show. Music? Yes - as with "The Sign Of Four", music - on piano, violin and guitar amongst others - plays a role in creating atmosphere as well as being part of the action on stage, which is made up of what appears at first sight to be a rather ramshackle collection of items.
The play, originally published under Charlotte Bronte's pseudonym of Currer Bell, covers Jane's story from the age of just 10 in neatly-composed segments as she progresses from schoolgirl (one for naughty ones!) right through to womanhood and although the actors have to portray different ages and characters, there is never any confusion in the audience's mind as to who is who.
Told partly in the first person by Jane speaking directly to the audience and partly by interacting with the rest of the cast, you are drawn in to the situation in which she finds herself from the very beginning, where it is clear that, following the death of her parents, she is subject to verbal and physical abuse by her aunt and cousins (one of a number of "social commentaries" in the book, another being the treatment of "lunatics" by locking them in the attic for their own good, which was seen at the time as a better alternative to placing them in an asylum). There are some inventively comic moments too - such as in the scene where Rochester, accompanied by his dog, tumbles from his horse.
The quality of the acting is excellent, especially as they have to be multi-talented actor/musicians, and Kelsey Short plays the title character in just the way you might imagine her to be in real-life, had she existed. And whilst a two hour show is never going to be able to convey all the plot lines and nuances of the book - and the creative team admit that this is "their" Jane Eyre and it may not necessarily be "your" Jane Eyre - they have nonetheless condensed the main elements of the book into a very enjoyable show which keeps you rooting for Jane Eyre in spite of the social and financial hurdles she faces.
Blackeyed Theatre are masters of their craft, bringing inventive adaptations of some well-known and much-loved classics to the stage and currently have two shows planned for next couple of years - one Jekyll & Hyde, the other Sherlock Holmes - and hopefully they will be including the venue in their touring schedule.
This has to be one of the most difficult plays to stage, bearing in mind all that happened in the book. This young group of talented actors worked very hard not only acting, but moving scenery and playing instruments and singing, and pulled it off. Imagination was required but they stuck to the story, and the book, although obviously had to minimise certain things. So well done to them all, I really enjoyed it. Multi tasking was great.
A beautiful production faithful to the story. A very original and contemporary staging with strong performances by all of the actors - well worth seeing if you love the book. You would not be disappointed!
A truly excellent piece of theatre with superb talented actors who gave an engaging performance of this Jane Austen classic. I was hooked from start to finish.
An excellent adaptation of the classic Charlotte Bronte novel. Innovative, imaginative and intriguing. The narrative/interaction of the actors/characters is brilliantly performed. If you like Jane Eyre you'll love this contemporary but faithful version of it.
What an amazing adaptation of this fantastic novel. The actors created magic on stage, clever scenery, beautiful music and fantastic staging enhanced the quality of the actors in this piece. Kept us engrossed through the whole performance. We'll done to all the actors just a shame they played to such a small house. They deserved better.
The Blackeyed Theatre’s production of Jane Eyre exuded a rich cinematic and lyrical- like quality, with an eerie ‘film score’ played by the actors throughout performance combining the ghostly sounds of the piano, violin and cello with the themes of power, madness and liberty spoken through the words on stage. The performance was a very physical one, with the actors themselves taking on several non-human roles such as items of furniture, elements of architecture and even forces of nature, giving the whole performance a certain fairy tale dream-like quality, where the lines between realism and fantasy were blurred. This certainly allowed for the recount of Jane’s life story to be portrayed as a volatile stream of consciousness running through Jane’s mind, whereby certain feelings of love, passion, fear and anger were heightened with hyperbolic uses of set, music and lighting as expressionistic metaphors for the inner psychological workings of Jane’s mind. Kelsey Short’s performance of the lead role painted a vivid picture of Jane’s external developmental journey from a vengeful ten-year-old to adulthood maturity and self-reflectiveness, as well simultaneously depicting her inner quest for freedom and equality. Ben Warwick’s Rochester seemed to divert away from the path of the traditional brooding, Byronic hero trodden by those playing Rochester before him and instead presented a more energetic, bullish character, which created an interesting foil between the reserved and inhibited Jane and the self-assured Rochester. The overall movement of the play created a journey-like cyclical structure, whereby the set remained stagnant while Jane retold her story through moving between dramatic monologues and playing her part within the cinematic-style snapshots of her inner past. Overall, this production can certainly be viewed as an ode to the work of Bronte, bringing her great Gothic romance to life with such passion and vividity.