Shared Experience, Jane Eyre

Review in Issue 9-4 | Winter 1997

Oscar Wilde said ‘one’s own life is often the life that one does not lead’; to cut off your real spirit and to repress the ‘wild’ soul within is equal to death.

Jane Eyre will never loose its appeal as a story of universal resonance. Polly Teale’s adaptation and direction of the classic text moved me almost as much as when I first read the book as a child. Pooky Quesnel as Bertha disturbingly clanks her chains. Monica Dolan is both funny and moving as Jane. Her ‘fiery spirit’ must be locked away if she is to survive in Rochester’s house.

The action begins with a lone cellist sitting to the side of a staircase which winds up to the room which houses the ‘mad woman in the attic’. Behind is a glorious swirling grey Yorkshire sky which captures perfectly the passion and energy of Charlotte Brönte’s story. The actors perform their various roles with equal conviction, whether playing dogs, horses or priests (an excellent Antony Byrne) and the raw emotion and sexual fire between Jane Eyre and Rochester (played by James Clyde with great sensitivity and feeling) is engulfing.

A specific physicality has become one of Shared Experience’s trademarks, and here we see it integrated into the action with ease and beauty. This is surely their best show since Anna Karenina; delicate and exuberant and full of the joy of life. As Charlotte Brönte said: ‘Even now the fire, though smothered, slacked, repelled, is burning at my life’s source.’

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 1997

This article in the magazine

Issue 9-4
p. 25