Jane Eyre

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - ART - north­ern­bal­let.com Ru­pert Chris­tiansen

New Theatre, Cardiff On tour un­til Jun 9

Who would have thought that Charlotte Brontë’s dark Vic­to­rian novel could plau­si­bly be trans­lated into dance? But North­ern Bal­let’s ver­sion of Jane Eyre has been a suc­cess since 2016, and this strong re­vival in­di­cates that it’s blessed with stay­ing power too.

A happy mar­riage of cre­ative tal­ents has been at work here. Philip Feeney has pro­duced an en­er­gis­ing score draw­ing on melodies by Schu­bert and Men­delssohn, and Pa­trick Kin­month’s de­signs com­bine a rich evo­ca­tion of York­shire moor bleak­ness with a sim­plic­ity that al­lows for flu­ent changes of scene.

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with Kin­month, the chore­og­ra­pher Cathy Marston has man­aged to pre­serve the fa­mil­iar out­line of the plot with­out get­ting clogged in con­fus­ing de­tail. She has also mined a vo­cab­u­lary of psy­cho­log­i­cally ex­pres­sive ges­ture and move­ment that brings the main char­ac­ters – stub­born Jane, volatile Mr Rochester, fa­natic Rev­erend Brock­le­hurst, crazed Bertha – vividly to life.

Their one in­no­va­tion is the in­tro­duc­tion of a group of anony­mous male demons who sur­round Jane on her pil­grim­age to­wards spir­i­tual res­o­lu­tion – a strik­ingly orig­i­nal con­cept that adds an ex­tra di­men­sion to the drama.

Casts al­ter­nate: I saw Abi­gail Pru­dames in the ti­tle role, in­ter­est­ingly paired with the black South African Mlindi Ku­lashe as Rochester. Pru­dames touch­ingly em­bod­ied Jane’s hon­esty and iso­la­tion with­out glam­or­is­ing or sen­ti­men­tal­is­ing her, while Ku­lashe danced with a fleet-footed charm that com­pen­sated for his fail­ure to ren­der the char­ac­ter’s more neu­rotic side.

To­gether they en­sured that the ac­tion moved swiftly and the ten­sion never fal­tered – this is bal­let that packs a punch and tells a grip­pingly emo­tional story.

Vic­to­ria Sib­son as Bertha and Javier Tor­res as Rochester

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