Re-review: Jane Eyre, National Theatre

“I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind”

I hadn’t intended to go back to Jane Eyre, having already spent a day in Bristol watching it in its original two-part format, but after a rather revelatory experience at Hetty Feather of all places, my new-found appreciation for director Sally Cookson demanded a revisit. Cookson’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s well-loved novel has been conflated into one single performance now, stretching out to three hours and thirty minutes but bursting with theatrical invention that just shimmers with freshness.

To carp about this or that being lost from the novel seems to be to spectacularly miss the point of what is being done here. Cookson and the company devised this production themselves and so it is clearly an interpretation of the material to suit a different medium but also one to carefully avoid any connotations of dourly faithful period drama. Iconoclastic music springs from its very soul (Melanie Marshall remaining as wonderful as I remembered), its spirit delightfully free from start to finish.

My original review still stands and I’ve not a lot more to add aside from an urging to make sure you book. Michael Vale’s playground-like set slots perfectly into the Lyttelton, Benji Bower’s score is a constant delight and Jane’s emotional journey is fiercely, intelligently vibrant both in Madeleine Worrall’s assured performance and in the multiple voices that make up her internal monologues.

If nothing else, it’s a show that made me like someone pretending to be a dog for once and in Felix Hayes’ brooding Rochester, more than enough reason to be mad about the boy. 

Running time: 3 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 10th January

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