When I heard that this production was split into two separate plays, a matinée and an evening show, I wondered how it would keep the audience interested. To spend an entire afternoon at the theatre would be extremely pleasant, but the play would have to be spectacular for the audience to justify such a display of hedonism. Luckily, this production is entirely worth it.
With staging constructed using wooden planks and metal bars, the audience felt like they were peering into the private confines of a domestic space. The different leveled platforms encouraged an array of perspectives, with Jane herself ascending from the bottom levels at the beginning of the play up to the higher levels by the end. Another deliciously dark element to this leveling was the use of the trapdoor, from which drunken socialites ascended and through which the dead passed into the next world…
Brimming with sharp and often comical physical theatre, the play was complimented by the music of a small and beautiful orchestra nestled in the centre of the stage. Accompanying the eerie folk music was the chilling voice of a lady in red, who floated across the stage as if in a trance. It slowly dawned on the audience that this figure was in fact Bertha, Rochester’s mad wife who lives in the attic, and it was extremely satisfying to realise that she had been present for the entire duration of the play, just as Jane and Rochester are unable to escape her presence in the story.
The cast played their parts superbly, particularly Madeleine Worrall’s Jane and Felix Hayes’ Rochester. All the Northern accents were wonderful, and Laura Elphinstone’s Geordie twang really brightened up the dialogue. Perhaps the most wonderful character, however, was that of Pilot the dog played by Craig Edwards. A fully grown man pretending to be a dog in a serious play sounds rather odd, but it was literally the best thing ever.
A fabulous production and a must-see!