The Lyric Theatre, The Lowry
Reviewed on Monday 10th April 2017 by Sebastian Singh
Turning a novel, especially a classic such as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, into a theatrical production is no mean feat. Director Sally Cookson, in collaboration with the National Theatre and the Bristol Old Vic, has created an innovative and exciting staging of this masterpiece.
The play follows Jane on a fight for fulfilment and liberty through many life obstacles. Nadia Clifford as Jane Eyre is a tour de force; she does not leave the stage throughout the production and gives all the strength, energy and emotional range that an audience could wish for in such a character.
Due to technical reasons (a power surge in the theatre), the performance was halted shortly into Act One but this technical issue was resolved swiftly and recommenced with even more energy from the cast. I was in awe at the actors’ physical stamina throughout this three-hour production, where they run, jump and climb amongst this vast set!
Michael Vale has produced a simple but highly functional set; with its wooden structures, ladders and white back cloths, it is a playground for the actors that allows the piece to transition through place and time effortlessly.
The imagery was beautiful and striking throughout thanks to Dan Canham’s movement pieces and Aideen Malone’s beautiful colour washes and delicate lighting choices. Also, Cookson’s decision to have the actors multi-rolling, enabled a small cast to deliver this epic novel very effectively.
Personally, I most admired the on-stage musicians: Matthew Churcher, Alex Heane and David Ridley, alongside actress and singer Melanie Marshall (performing as Bertha Mason). They performed breath-taking pieces of music, which both moved and haunted many moments of the production.
This show runs at the Lowry until Saturday 15th April 2017.