Tag Archives: Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre


Wilde Theatre

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell

Reviewed – 3rd November 2020



“Kelsey Short’s Jane is a captivating and empowered northern lass with bags of inspiring grit”


How to compress a blockbuster three volume novel from 1847 into an engaging theatrical experience for audiences today? That’s the challenge that writer-director Nick Lane has risen to splendidly in this thrilling adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’.

It’s the work of South Hill Park’s resident company Black Eyed Theatre which has a deserved reputation for exciting and innovative theatre with minimal grant assistance.

Poor plain Jane. She’s the put-upon girl ‘whose capacity for love is seemingly limitless’ that’s at the giddying centre of this first person narrative. Her struggle for self-determination through the years from schoolgirl right through to motherhood is Brontë’s inspiring subject.

The cast are multi-instrumentalists and singers and take up to five roles each. The action takes place on a stark and impressively contemporary set by Victoria Spearing which is particularly well lit by Alan Valentine.

Kelsey Short’s Jane is a captivating and empowered northern lass with bags of inspiring grit. The splendid Ben Warwick is Mr Rochester, the mysterious owner of Thornfield Hall. In his high-waisted britches (costumes by Naomi Gibbs) he has a lean and hungry look and gives an energetic and winning performance.

This is the kind of rigorously honest production where all the cast are on stage almost all the time, even as they make their costume changes. Their tight ensemble work is the motor that keeps the energy up and drives the action forward. Camilla Simeon, Eleanor Toms and Oliver Hamilton are all compelling performers, deftly switching from role to role, and even instrument to instrument, mid-tune.

The story is something of a melodrama, albeit with plenty of humorous moments, so it’s appropriately broken up with plenty of folksy tunes and atmospheric musical mood-setting by composer George Jennings.



Reviewed by David Woodward

Photography by Alex Harvey-Brown


Jane Eyre

Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell until 4th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde | ★★★★★ | September 2020


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Jane Eyre – 4 Stars

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Watermill Theatre

Reviewed – 30th October 2018


“This is both a story of 1847 and one of today”


Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is the eponymous and block-busting mid-19th century romantic novel. First published in three volumes, its narrator, ‘plain Jane’ describes her childhood in the home of an abusive aunt, her punitive schooling, and her employment as governess to the ward of Mr Rochester at the gloomy Thornfield Hall. Rochester, of course, has a dark secret locked up in his attic. Jane Eyre is a story about confinement, mastery and love. For Rochester, Jane is ‘unfemale’, ‘a wild, frantic bird’ to be caged. But she is ‘no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will’.

This is both a story of 1847 and one of today. Newbury’s Watermill has translated the classic and pioneering novel into a seventy minute show that runs without interval, and that is followed, from Tuesday to Friday, by an interesting question and answer session. 

Adaptor Danielle Pearson explained how almost half of her text was cut away about a week before the show opened, enabling her to create a taut and vibrant adaptation that remains truthful to the novel. Director Chloe France stripped away set too, and the show takes place with the back wall of the theatre visible and just a few simple wooden boxes on stage. Costumes are traditional and appropriate.

Just three actors were cast. Rebecca Tebbett has a luminous quality as Jane, and thoroughly inhabits the Yorkshire in which the action takes place. Wreh-Asha Walton has by far the most difficult task, taking on seven roles (plus Rochester’s dog). Interestingly, she portrays Rochester’s wife Bertha as a Caribbean woman, using some folk-dance inspired moves in a performance imbued with impressive power and authority. 2018 Stage Debut Award winner Alex Wilson has just the right amount of arrogant authority as Rochester. In one demanding and fast-moving scene he switches repeatedly from the role of Rochester to St John Rivers, Jane’s cousin, highlighting the dilemma that faces Jane as she chooses between going to India and returning to Rochester.

By stripping away so much that would be superfluous, this clever stage adaptation focuses on the power and poetry of Charlotte Brontë’s words, with some engaging performances from an impressive young cast. Not a moment is wasted.

You will have to be quick to catch this satisfying and thought-provoking show which closes on November 2.


Reviewed by David Woodward

Photography by Philip Tull


Jane Eyre

Watermill Theatre until 2nd November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Teddy | ★★★★★ | January 2018
The Rivals | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Burke & Hare | ★★★★ | April 2018
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | ★★★★ | May 2018
Jerusalem | ★★★★★ | June 2018
Trial by Laughter | ★★★★ | September 2018


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