Jane Eyre - The Company - Review by Sian Meredith
Jane Eyre, adapted by Willis Hall, is the latest production from Sheffield based theatre company The Company performed at The Drama Studio and directed by Ian Gibbard.
We follow Jane, played by Kate Spivey, from her childhood in the unforgiving Lowood School to her employment as a young woman at Thornfield Hall under the mysterious Mr Rochester, played by Craig McCrindle. Spivey presents us with a no nonsense Jane, charmingly blunt and to the point with a wicked sense of humour. McCrindle as Rochester does the character justice, switching from the hopeless romantic to the secretive cad as the script demands. The two play well off of each other, the quick wit and banter coming to them easily and making for a dynamic relationship.
The chorus each take on multiple roles, allowing us to see everyone’s range from the meek and terrified orphans of Lowood School to the haughty and hilarious Ingram family. Anirban Raha excels as the pious John Rivers and fearful Richard Mason. Catherine Newsome is wonderful as Mrs Fairfax, the housekeeper, and Alice Ravencroft inspires sympathy for Bertha. Phil Ravencroft is daunting as the cruel Mr Brocklehurst and humorous as the Reverend Croft. Holly Steer, Laura Payne, Daisy Marshall, Oliver Howard, and Charlie Lloyd complete the chorus each as multiple characters as well as Jane’s inner monologue, helping to keep the story flowing.
A stand out performance came from Paigan Gibbons who shows us a variety of characters, from the kindly Miss Temple to drunken servant Grace Poole, and in particular her portrayal of Blanche Ingram with possibly the filthiest laugh I have ever heard in a period piece that had the audience laughing every time.
I must also commend Poppy Marshall in her stage debut as the precocious Adele Varens. While only a small role, Poppy embodied it and despite being given little by the script remained in character throughout.
The minimal set allows complete submersion into the majority of scenes, though perhaps worked against this effect in scenes that took place explicitly outdoors. The majority of the scene is set and separated by the use of lighting which appears quite impressive and haunting when Bertha haunts the halls of Thornfield at night. It worked well to create an atmosphere, though when used to create the idea of flames engulfing a bed did feel somewhat underwhelming, undermining the tension of the scene. Fortunately, the performances did not allow this feeling to linger.
Jane Eyre is performing at The Drama Studio until Saturday 4th March. It’s certainly not one to miss for any fan of the original book and is a fantastic introduction for those unfamiliar with the story.