Everything rises on ‘Eyre’


The latest review from London’s Copy Director, Philip Browning on Jane Eyre currently showing at the National Theatre.

When the mad woman in the attic starts singing Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’, a bridal veil billows out like an anaconda of ectoplasm, and the actor playing Mr. Rochester’s dog thumps the stage with a cord for his tail, you know this ‘Jane Eyre’ (at the National Theatre) is in a very different theatrical zone to a BBC ‘biddies in bonnets’ adaptation.

There are corsets and stove-pipe hats, but these 210 minutes are played out on plain planks and ladders, with live music. This kind of highly stylised, physical theatre often leaves me with the suspicion that the cast are enjoying themselves more than I am – but this production, which begins and ends with the words ‘It’s a girl!’, had me (shamelessly) in tears, twice.