Reviewed by Richard Lane
Willis Hall’s adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre, is regarded generally as the finest of such adaptations. And Megan Dansie’s direction of this compelling, gothic story presented with minimalistic staging, is equally as fine indeed.
The plot covers the titular heroine Jane Eyre’s life from the harrowing physical, emotional and spiritual mistreatment at Gateshead and Lowood, to Thornfield Hall, the caring Rivers family and finally her uniting with Edward Rochester following the redemptive fire at Thornfield.
The narration throughout by the company direct to the audience, is reminiscent of a Greek chorus providing strong links to the action.
The sombre, gloomy lighting by Richard Parkhill perfectly encapsulates the ever- present darkness of Jane’s journey.
Excluding the narrators played by the cast, there were forty two roles played by fifteen actors in a master class of ensemble work, marshalled cleverly by Ms Dansie.
The difficult , mammoth role of Jane Eyre was played with supreme skill by Zanny Edhouse belying her current theatrical inexperience. She is a genuine talent and a wonderful “find” for Therry.
Similarly, Steve Marvanek was a powerful and commanding presence yet conveyed his love for Jane without sentimentality. Sue Wylie was perfectly cast as the warm-hearted and benevolent Mrs Fairfax .
Without mention,other cast members have certainly not been bypassed as the performers played each of their two or three (or more) roles without a weak link anywhere. They were disciplined and beautifully early -Nineteenth Century in movement, speech and style.
This production is one of Therry’s best in recent times and it provides another feather in the already overcrowded-crowded cap of Megan Dansie, and also the entire production.