Younger Hall, 16 April 2011
Rating: * * * *
Not Cricket Productions pride themselves on presenting unusual and memorable interpretations of classic stories. Jane Eyre was no exception. Stepping through the doors, the audience were welcomed into The Rochester Arms, where a pair of lively barmaids filled their listeners in on the gossip surrounding the local landowner. From there the viewers were escorted by a servant into the drawing room of Thornfield itself, where polite society were gathered by their enigmatic host, who was himself ostensibly missing. Characters engaged directly with the audience, or rather ‘the guests’, offering them drinks and entertainment.
The production brought us into the heart of Charlotte Brontë’s most famous work, moving through time and location, from Jane’s childhood home where a screaming young girl behind locked doors deeply foreshadows what is yet to come, to her emotional reunion with the blind and much-changed Rochester in the pub where the tale begins. At one moment the audience could be standing in a quiet room in which songs are sung and tea taken, the next, shut up in a dimly-lit room where the sounds of crackling fire and not-so-distant screams pervade and a set of scorched nightclothes are seen draped over the furniture.
Though short, the length of the production diminished nothing of its quality. The cast were so deeply immersed in their characters it was possible to gain a real sense of them from the brief glimpses we were offered, and excellent costuming combined with a well-chosen location helped to bring about the sense that the audience really had stepped into another time altogether, an impression that remained long after the production had ended.
Image from simplyspiffing.co.uk