Take Jane Eyre, add physical theatre, a live band on stage and classic songs like Crazy by Gnarls Barkley… and the result is a fresh energetic and emotive show, that seems surprisingly contemporary.
This production by the National Theatre at The Lowry in Salford, until Saturday 15 April 2017, is the premiere of the 2017 UK tour.
It brings fresh poignancy to the 1847 classic novel by Charlotte Bronte, who originally published under a man’s name to hide the fact she was a woman, when women didn’t do that kind of thing.
Nadia Clifford’s Jane is clearly a feisty feminist that will fight for her rights from an early age, developing into an independent woman, often surrounded by a chorus arguing the different sides of her inner thoughts – especially when it comes to the men in her life.
When it’s not the chorus, it is often the spine-tingling vocals of Melanie Marshall that explain Jane’s inner thoughts and turmoil in songs like Mad About the Boy.
As the production uses so much music and song. the cast hardly ever stopped moving, with precise choreography, up and down the steps and different levels of platforms. They ran together to demonstrate Jane travelling in a carriage and kept swapping roles at full speed.
Full marks to set designer Michael Vale for shooting real flames into the air twice on stage and making me actually worry about their safety – they looked very close to the actors and the curtains.
Tim Delap had great comic timing as Rochester as he awkwardly flirted with Jane, his ward’s governess, and Paul Mundell was hilarious as Pilot, his dog.
But when Melanie reappeared as Rochester’s dark secret, the mad wife Bertha in the attic singing Crazy, it felt like the story had changed. How did we feel about Rochester’s treatment of his wife? What was Jane letting herself in for? Have another listen to the lyrics and you’ll hear what I mean.
Jane Eyre is at The Lowry in Salford until Saturday 15 April 2017 – and it is the premiere of the 2017 UK tour. For more details and tickets visit thelowry.com.
For the full tour visit nationaltheatre.org.uk