Jane Eyre, National Theatre Live (YouTube) until April 16.
Charlotte Bronte’s classic is brought vividly to the stage in this remarkable production directed by Sally Cookson.
Madeleine Worrall is terrific as Jane, a fiercely independent spirit spending her life looking for love – actually looking for someone to treat her half-way decently.
Felix Hayes does as well as he can as Rochester. There’s a lot of barking of orders and ordering people (including Jane) to go back up to the house, and general stomping around. But there’s a central question mark at the heart of the story – why would anyone fall for this bully?
Anyway fall for him Jane does and if you know the story you’ll know how that turns out. If you don’t, tune in to YouTube and find out. It is a good yarn.
And the big advantage of watching this on telly is the close-ups: The actors really can act. It’s not just about stage movement and voice projection, the expressions and the emotions bring the play to life. Real tears are being shed for you.
The story is helped along by some terrific incidental music and wonderful singing by Melanie Marshall.
The set is a wooden walkway which rises up to a high platform, and a series of ladders. The cast do a lot of scampering around, climbing up and down the ladders and weaving between the uprights supporting the platform. But somehow it all manages to suggest the important locations in the story – from Lowood School where young Jane is so badly treated, to Rochester’s ominous pile Thornfield, to the manor house of the clergyman who tries to browbeat Jane into marriage.
The production, a collaboration between the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic, was highly praised when it was first staged in 2015, and it’s easy to see why.
Thanks to the National Theatre for making it available for free (although the National would welcome a donation).
For what’s coming up in this YouTube series, see our News page.