Jane Eyre

The National Theatre performed the gothic novel by charlotte Bronte, and on the 4th of June 2020 the national theatre YouTube channel streamed it for a week. This version of Jane Eyre is shown to a modern society, where its seen as a feminist story. The basic set out of the stage makes the audience use their imagination, just like they would have to if they were reading the novel. Even though there is a wooden apparatus making up most of the room, the audience don’t fail to sink into the storyline. I think this is because the lighting creates an atmosphere that aids in imagination. Colours such as blues, purples and reds give emotions such as calm, danger and tension, which is the literal background for the performers. There’s a live band that sits centre stage behind the action, the audience can vividly see them, yet I never felt distracted, if anything the booming sound of the drum heightened my imagination. The ensemble is vital in the performance. They move props around the stage and even become the voices of Jane’s conscience which is a refreshing change of pace in the 3 hour-15-minute-long play. This is an entirely original concept that I‘ve not seen done before. The ensemble even joins with Jane as she is travelling to a new location such as Lowood boarding school. They run on the spot whilst the band plays. Sounds of ’clickety-clacks’ and a driver shouting is all that’s needed to show the audience what is happening.

A moment I enjoyed was when Jane Eyre was standing on the wooden apparatus, ensemble surrounding her holding metal squares, which were windows. She’s telling her desire to be free and the windows open allowing the wind from the outside world to hit Jane. The audience can connect with Jane here because she faces them, and it feels like she is talking to them. Not only is this visually beautiful but it's overwhelming, somehow Sally Cookson includes the raw, emotive description Charlotte Bronte once wrote. The soft lighting complimented the performers and made watching feel more personal, which I didn’t expect to happen.

The importance of lighting in a performance is what I'll take away from watching Jane Eyre, the simplicity of the set made the lighting more beneficial than usual and it replicated the feelings of Jane so that the audience can be completely immersed in the action. Another learning curve was realising that if done right, a basic set is perfect and is still a success, it also allows the audience to listen and feel the emotions of the characters, so they get a deeper connection with them, because there isn’t any distraction of a big set and exaggerative lighting effects.

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