Jane Eyre at The Lowry, Salford
Oppression, injustice and the fight for independence, themes you’d expect to find in any modern day drama but it’s Brontë’s Jane Eyre we’re referring to, a book that was written almost 170 years ago. Now re-imagined and brought to life by the National Theatre, Jane Eyre at The Lowry, Salford, is not to be missed.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Jane Eyre at the Lowry, Salford: the reading of classic novels has always eluded me, I favour dystopian, futuristic texts. Nevertheless, after visiting Wycoller and Gawthorpe Hall, places both linked with Charlotte Brontë, the opportunity to see Jane Eyre brought to life on stage, at one of my favourite venues, seemed too good an opportunity to miss.
Working in central Manchester, Salford Quays is only a short drive away. Arriving early, I collected our tickets, programme and of course, all-important snacks before meeting my mum at The Lowry’s box office. As we settled in to our seats, I was given a brief synopsis of the plot by my mum who worried it wasn’t my thing. Turns out, she needn’t have worried as it was, undoubtedly, the best performance I’ve ever seen. From start to finish, I was enthralled.
For those, like me, who haven’t read Jane Eyre, the story tells the tale of the protagonist’s fight for freedom, equality and independence in Victorian times. Orphaned at birth, her early life is filled with injustice, poverty and cruelty. Jane faces life head on, a feisty feminist whose moral compass ensures her final happiness.
A co-production from the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic, director Sally Cookson is the brainchild behind the tumultuous and somewhat controversial reimagining of this classic novel which opens with an almighty cry from Nadia Clifford, who plays the protagonist throughout, starting with her birth at the show’s opening. Manchester actress, Clifford, is spirited, powerful and convincing: you want her to succeed in her quest for independence and equality. However, it’s Mr. Rochester’s faithful companion, Pilot (played by Ben Cutler) who threatens to steal the show with his playful, bashful mannerisms which are a delight to watch.
Image by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg
Without a doubt, Cookson has dragged Jane Eyre into the 21st century with the addition of a live band on stage and a modern soundtrack featuring Noël Coward’s ‘Mad About the Boy’ and Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’, the latter bringing goosebumps to my arm as Melanie Marshall, playing Bertha Rochester, uses these lyrics to explain her episodes of madness and to bring clarity to the demise of Thornfield Hall.
The verdict? A riveting and spectacular classic brought to life through a creative director, excellent casting and imaginative staging- not to be missed!
You’ll need to be quick to catch Jane Eyre at The Lowry, Salford. The final shows at The Lowry feature on Saturday 15th April, with a matinee and evening show.
Our tickets were provided complimentary for review purpose.