Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Review: Jane Eyre @ Theatre Royal Brighton

This quite extraordinary production of Charlotte Brontës classic not only pulls new threads from the well-known and loved story, but also brings a fierce physicality to the stage.

Nadia Clifford as Jane Eyre

Originally devised by the company at Bristol Old Vic (in two parts) and transferring to the National Theatre before touring, the sense of teamwork here is both palpable and thrilling. 

Characters multi-role, restlessly and continually passing in and around the set without any hint of confusion - the intent and story is always clear and driving forward.

The set itself defines and contains the piece - a playground of bare wood, metal ladders, a huge platform, plain backdrops and a wooden floor glowing under superb lighting. 

Once the incredibly talented (and energetic!) cast hit the stage, the riot of movement hardly stops as Jane's story unfolds. 

Jane (played by Nadia Clifford, and wonderful in the role) is seen here as an exultant feminist - joyfully and stubbornly kicking out at everything around her as she"s shunted from pillar to post. 

"It's a girl" are the first and last words of the production, bookending the production with text as statement. 

The length of the adaptation (around three hours including interval) allows us the luxury of looking at Jane's story, and focussing much less on the well-known "madwoman in the attic" trope and more on her childhood and journey as she grows to adulthood.

Lighting and set are instrumental in bringing the fever dream of the novel's key moments to life - the young Jane locked in the "red room" is evoked by floods of scarlet light, real flames bursting up as Rochester's house burns, window frames (wielded by the ensemble) shutting Jane in, and in moments of pure theatrical joy, releasing her.

Music and sound design are central to the production, with the small band playing onstage for much of the action, adding barrages of percussion, twisty accordion, piano and strings. Sound effects from the subtle (rain, birdsong) to the apocalyptic are gorgeous throughout. 

Melanie Marshall plays Bertha Mason, Rochester's "mad" wife - and she is given her voice throughout the action, patrolling and watching the action, her velvety mezzo singing punctuating the story with sometimes provocatively anachronistic songs ("Mad About The Boy" worked for me; "Crazy" not so much).

Rochester (Tim Delap), dishevelled, distracted, and commanding is magnificent; Hannah Bristow alarming and endearing in equal measure as Rochester's ward, and a special mention must go to Paul Mundell's turn as Rochester's dog Pilot - funny, but also poignant, as we see him give his unconditional love to Jane which his master at first cannot.

This epic sprawl through Jane Eyre's psyche is a fearless, unmissable tornado of a show which leaves some indelible images on viewers - director Sally Cookson has, along with the cast, created something special here - and Nadia Clifford is a real name to watch in the future.

Jane Eyre at Theatre Royal Brighton until Saturday 29th July 2017. CLICK HERE for info.

by: Gary Cook


Reach Out, I'll Be There was originally famously performed by the Four Tops and will be re-released by co-writer Lamont Dozier, completely repackaged as an gospel fuelled acoustic tune. 

We Are Scientists, the Brooklyn, New York based power pop troupe are set to return with their sixth album, Megaplex

Hot on the heels of their recent rammed and raucous Winter tour, Northern psychedelic punks The Lovely Eggs are set to release their forthcoming album This Is Eggland, ahead of a date on the south coast.

"We're from the days when a number 14 bus and a supermarket trolley got us around." Soul II Soul mainman Jazzie B remembers the lengths he and a school friend used to go to play dances with their first sound system when they were just thirteen years old.

In anticipation of International Women's Day and to mark the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act - which gave many women the vote in UK for the first time -  Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA), Brighton, will host a panel debate on women in creative leadership.  

Brighton's contemporary art gallery Fabrica has launched a crowdfunding appeal to rescue its finances in light of recent funding cuts which threaten the organisation’s future. 
Peace Pic (c) Jonnie Craig 2018

Indie rock quartet Peace have released stand-alone track, Power, a unifying anthem between the band and their fans at their notoriously raucous and tribal live shows; this is Peace 2.0; new label, new tunes and a sure fire statement of intent from the four-piece.

The Netherlands has been chosen as the lead international partner for The Great Escape who will be working alongside the Dutch Music Export to highlight the country's most prominent rising stars.

The Love Supreme Jazz Festival, the UK's only major greenfield jazz festival, today announces a host of acts confirmed to perform at this summer's event, which returns to Glynde Place in East Sussex from June 29th – July 1st 2018.

Split Britches present an up-to-the minute topical interactive show which takes unexploded ordnances as a metaphor for the unexplored potential in us all - particularly elders – and tries to uncover it. 

Albert Hammond Jr's new album Francis Trouble explores a deeply personal topic – the stillborn death of his twin brother, Francis, and the lingering effects that event has had in his life and music. 

Punk. Funk. Rock. Soul. The main ingredients in a potent witch's brew that the Bellrays have been mixing for a long time now.

Brighton Unitarian Church has been awarded a grant of £227,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore its endangered classical Greek frontage, which dates from 1820, and is one of the city centre's finest landmarks.

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...

Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd