Jane Eyre Blue Orange Arts theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall Review Aug 9th 2021
Jane Eyre is showing her age since the story was written by Charlotte Bronte in 1847 and the world has seen social attitudes change so much that it in parts seems like a romantic fantasy. It is, however, considered a classic story by many, and the film, television and theatre adaptations of it seem as endless as its oddly enduring popularity.
I was, however, curious to see how Blue Orange Arts would adapt this work to not only the stage, but to the incredibly limited time frame available to tell the story (50 minutes). To do this, the company are relying on many theatrical “fall-backs”, and the first person narration style of the book suits the narrator style of this stage production well. Time is the issue here of course and although all the main points of the story are covered, much of the depth of the characters in the story has to be left out. We do get to meet the main characters through our cast playing multiple roles, and the unusual way to cast one of the main characters in the story is imaginative and leaves the door open for a few in-jokes.
Everyone on stage is doing a lot of different tasks here and at times that is at the cost of there being time to develop any real depth to the relationship between Jane and her beloved Rochester. The time allowed to develop this story also allows us little insight into Jane’s childhood, and that is to me always a more interesting story than the one of the older Jane. This dramatic childhood is where Jane takes all of her strengths from as an adult and we are given an all too small glimpse of this side of Jane.
Like many stage productions at the Fringe, this production cannot get away from the problem of performing in a space that is not raked for a theatre production and sight lines are difficult, a problem accentuated by so much of the production being seated on stage. This is not the company’s fault, or the venue’s fault as space is what it is at The Fringe and you have to make allowances for that.
This production of Jane Eyre was always going to run into having to make choices and trade-offs in its production and Blue Orange Arts have done a good job here with limited options available to them.
Review by Tom King (c) 2021
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