The National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic’s modern adaptation of Jane Eyre at Norwich Theatre Royal was simply stunning. This well-balanced performance was hauntingly beautiful and at times, rather intense. Whilst the plot stayed true to the book, the live band, modern music and technicalities of an otherwise simple looking set provided a modern twist.
The cast of ten put on a gritty, gut wrenching, feisty and emotional performance which made three hours fly by. I was wrapped up in the storyline and fascinated by each of the characters’ weird and wonderful quirks. It was amazing how seamlessly the actors switched between their characters with the help of physical interludes bolstered by the live band. One moment they were playing a human, the next a dog, a lamp or even a horse! Granted, on paper that may sound a little strange and seem a little confusing, but their sublime acting coupled with sudden lighting changes and dramatic music helped it all make perfect sense.
The incredible personification of characters and the sheer professionalism and talent of each and every actor was outstanding. Take Paul Mundell’s performance of Pilot the dog, for example. Even as a minor character he brought heaps of laughter to the theatre. Whats more he always remained convincingly dog-like at all times, even when the spotlight wasn’t on him.
Whilst Pilot had us in stitches, Nadia Clifford’s performance as Jane Eyre had us hooked. It was complex and gripping; she really brought Jane’s inner pain to life. Each defiant move, sob and moment of anger was executed perfectly. Recurring lines, themes and events really bought home her struggle whilst adding an extra dimension to an already wonderful performance. It must have been an exhausting role to play!
To put it simply, the key to its success was teamwork. It was this combination of outstanding acting, brilliant direction, incredible live music and atmospheric lighting that made Jane Eyre special. The Mumford and Sons style band and soulful voice of Melanie Marshall really brought home the emotions and struggles of the story. The clever use and fast paced changes of lighting here and there highlighted the characters’ feelings. The story telling and direction then tied it all together. There was no need for an all-singing, all-dancing set with a performance like that. Even though the fire was rather impressive!
So, if you thought Jane Eyre was twee or girly this unforgettable performance will change your mind. You really don’t want to miss Jane Eyre at Norwich Theatre Royal!