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A CurtainUp London Review
by Brian Clover
Shared Experience's sparkling fantasia on Charlotte Bronte's masterpiece is triumphantly revived at the Trafalgar Studios. My colleague has already described the production in some detail so it only remains for me to say that the revival appears to equal the original's passion, wit and invention. Even those who consider themselves allergic to Jane Eyre would find much to stimulate them in this very physical treatment of the tale. Jane's literal repression of half her nature, a sick room full of dead girls, a charging horse and snarling dog, a market fit for Christina Rossetti's goblins, a fire, all are presented with a flair and energy matched by Neil Warmington's moody set, Peter Salem's subtle music and sound design.
But this production is never contrived or flashy: the theatricality only serves to support actors who know and own every inch of their stage. All are excellent, though inevitably James Clyde's Rochester stands out, making his mood swings both believable and charismatic. But the night must belong to Monica Dolan, whose Jane brilliantly shows a woman forced to bury her heart deep in the ground only to have to dig it up again, her fierce intelligence as much a source of torment as triumph to her.
Perhaps the balance between acts could be better (the second part slackens after the galloping pace of the first) and the writhings of Bertha can seem a little repetitive, despite the spectacular efforts of Myriam Acharki. But these are quibbles that should not prevent anyone from experiencing a rare production where emotion and virtuosity are as united as Jane and Rochester finally are themselves. If that doesn't give away the ending. Link to the first London production of Jane Eyre
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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