Jane Eyre (Tour), Grand Opera House | Review


Jane Eyre (Tour)
Grand Opera House, Belfast 
Reviewed by Damien Murray on Tuesday 22 August 2017 
★★

The National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic’s joint production of Jane Eyre is astonishingly good … and it is far from being what one would expect! 

It may be based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel, but this work – devised by the original company – is modern in its approach, in its styling and in its staging and manages to retain Jane Eyre’s core characterisation of being a free spirit and a strong-willed individual who strives for equality and for the right to be herself. 

I am not a Brontë fan, yet I was blown away by this riveting production and gladly sat through over three hours of it without any loss of interest. Everything about this visually-stunning production is praise worthy, from its innovative direction and inventive staging to its exceptional and intense ensemble playing (complete with strong elements of physical theatre), and from its faultless lighting and sound plots to its magnificent movement, which ranged from the delicate and the balletic to the furious and the frenzied throughout. 

The trio of on-stage actor/musicians brought a lot to the table, with music that varied from appropriately ‘English’ style folk to gospel to what could best be described as atmospheric soundscapes, when required.  Musically, I loved Melanie Marshall’s apt interpretation and arrangement of the Gnarls Barkley (CeeLo Green) hit, 'Crazy' – so unexpected, yet totally fitting. 

Although performances were all faultless, I must congratulate Paul Mundell in particular for bringing the dog, Pilot, to life so well and with so much humour. 

Years ago, the Belfast Festival at Queen’s used to bring some spectacular pieces of world theatre to Belfast and these were ‘special’… This production is of such a high calibre that it seems a shame that it is just another touring production, for it, too, is very ‘special’ and provides a fantastic night of theatre – Don’t miss it! 

Jane Eyre continues at Belfast’s Grand Opera House until Sat 26 Aug, 2017

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