‘Jane Eyre’ // shake & stir theatre co and HOTA

‘Jane Eyre’ was spine-chilling.

Australian based theatre company shake & stir has presented a spine-chilling rendition of Charlotte Bronte’s feminist classic, ‘Jane Eyre’.

This gothic tale of Bronte’s follows Jane Eyre as she searches for love, family and a sense of belonging. Following a childhood spent suffering at the hands of her cruel Aunt, Jane finds employment at Thornfield Hall, the impressive yet mysterious home of Edward Rochester. As Jane and Rochester become inexplicably drawn to each other, the dark secrets locked within the walls of Thornfield start to unravel, forcing Jane on a heart-wrenching journey toward truth and freedom.

Adapted from Bronte’s 1847 classic, Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij have created a beautifully gothic production that is reminiscent of the 1800s dracula-esque era. Lee & Skubij have brought the words off the page in this show, beautifully integrating Bronte’s writing into the production itself.

Complimenting the wonderful adaption is music composition by Aria Award Winner Sarah Mcleod. Mcleod performs her music live on stage throughout this production and it was a fantastical and uplifting element of the production.

Additional music and sound by Guy Webster was eerie and terrifying. Webster creating a sense of wonder with some sounds, and designed a soundscape to petrify and scare the audience with others.

Lighting design by Jason Glenwright was evocative and emotional. It beautifully fit the gothic theme of the piece. However, [SPOILER ALERT] the highlight and outstanding technical element of the show is the full stage fire display – emulating the burning down of the grand house. It was a true spectacle to witness. The aftermath of the set was reminiscent of destruction and loss – adding to the chaos that ensued.

Direction by Michael Futcher was ingenious and faultless throughout the entire production. Futcher beautifully interwove physical theatre and Brecht techniques flawlessly into this production. This made for not only a fantastic production but a great case study for secondary and tertiary arts students.

The elements of physical theatre brought the horror of this story to life, with physicalization by Sarah Mcleod a true delight. She created the beautiful daughter in robotic movements which commented on the idea that women have been used as puppets or pawns in history. This was juxtaposed by playing Rochester’s first wife more ominously and in some ways reminiscent of ‘The Conjuring’.

While the technical elements were a prominent and celebrated part of this production, the talented and wonderful troupe of actors were equally phenomenal. Julian Garner played all the masculine characters, from the terrifying schoolmaster to the loving yet crazy Mr Rochester. Garner’s stage presence was impeccable in this production, holding the audience in the palm of the hand.

In the title role of Jane Eyre, Nelle Lee played Jane with grace and innocence portraying her feministic ideals with hearty connection. Lee is an experienced actor who’s training and skill shines through during this production.

Rounding out the cast was Jodie Le Vesonte, similarly talented and watchable in this production. Le Vesconte plays a multitude of characters with ease, not only changing physicality but also vocally.

Jane Eyre is a wonderful production by shake & stir. It is beautifully adapted from Bronte’s classic novel. The story of feminism is strategically reflected and directly interwoven into the production which asks the audience to consider the role of women in greater society.

Jane Eyre performed until the 22nd of October 2022 at Home of the Arts before touring QLD until November 2022. For more information visit their website.

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