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