I went to see the Stagecraft production of Jane Eyre at the Gryphon Theatre last week. I was told that purists would hate it. Jane Eyre is my favourite book. I am in awe of Charlotte Bronte and think is she is one of the world's greatest writers, so naturally I went to the theatre with a touch of trepidation.
It was fantastic. I thought it was a great show with a great cast and excellent direction. There were elements of the play that I didn't like, but these are faults of Polly Teale's play itself and certainly not of the acting or direction or staging. I wrote my full review for Lumiere but didn't want to include too many plot spoilers there, although there are things that still bother me about the play.
For example, if Bertha is Jane's alter-ego, the two times she escapes from the attic take on an extra meaning. In the first instance she attempts to kill Rochester by setting light to his bedroom - although in this version it appears that she would rather possess him first. If she is trying to kill him, does this mean that subconsiously Jane thinks he isn't right for her and wishes him dead? Or is she trying to set him up so that she can save him and appear his protector? Either way, this makes her less modest and humble than she appears throughout the play and so implies that she is devious and prepared to risk anything to get her own way.
die before she becomes Mrs Rochester, then this is a sad indictment on women who sacrifice their inner soul just to get the ring on their finger. I don't think Charlotte's Jane does this. But maybe Polly's Jane does.
In the second instance, she visits Jane's bedchamber and shreds her veil the night before the wedding. Is she trying to warn her subconscious self against marrying Mr Rochester? If she thinks this would be a disaster and Jane turns her back on these feelings, then it makes the supposed happy ending far less happy. Also if Jane's passionate and wilfull side has to
Perhaps this is too deep an interpretation and the mad woman who escapes is merely Bertha Mason and not the other Jane. In which case, when does she stop being Jane and become the other woman? I don't think you can have it both ways, and it is this that doesn't make sense to me.
Having said that, I think it is a wonderful play and I really recommend that everyone who can, should go. I'd love to know your thoughts and interpretations of these events, so please let me know!