Jane Eyre at the Rep – thrilling theatre

Directed by Sally Cookson, the aim was to produce a play that is “wild, wonderful and thrilling” and it’s not a spoiler to tell you that as far as I’m concerned Jane Eyre achieves that and more.

JANE EYRE UK Tour 2017 Royal National TheatreThe production was amazing, the set, the music, the singing, Pilot’s tail, the dresses hanging from the rafters, all of it came together to create a cohesive slice of theatre that was literally exhilarating.

This is the reason I want to go and see plays, when it’s entertaining, exciting visually interesting, moving, funny and really imaginative. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about it.

When the play opened, with Jane Eyre squalling, people dashing about and a band pumping out tunes, I was a bit worried, to be honest, that it was going to be a musical. Not that musicals are bad just…Rochester singing? I couldn’t imagine it being anything other than a festival of cringe. It’s not a musical, although there is music, and singing, and even kind of dancing, but it works. So much in this production that I would never have imagined would work actually knitted together perfectly.

Nadia Clifford (Jane Eyre) Tim Delap (Rochester) Photo by BrinkhoffM+Âgenburg

I don’t want to say too much about the staging because I want you to see it and enjoy it for yourself, with no idea what’s going to happen. I’ve read Jane Eyre at least four times but even so I was surprised by the play and it presented different elements of the story I’ve never considered before. If you’re only going to see one play ever, well that would be a shame but this would be totally worth it.

On the way out, I heard one guy comment that it reminded him of an ITV drama. Yeah. I restrained myself from slapping him upside his head; I didn’t hear the whole conversation so perhaps they went on to say something less idiotic and violence is not a cure for stupid anyway. I think most of us can recognise the massive debt that Catherine Cookson owes to Charlotte Brontë, right?

JANE EYRE UK Tour 2017 Royal National Theatre

It’s not just a cliché to say I laughed, I cried, it’s also the truth. I’d never thought of Jane Eyre as a small shouty Northerner, but obviously she would have been and it just made me love her more. When she shouts at Rochester that she’s a human being, you feel not only her passion but the collective cry of the oppressed and stepped upon, from the time the novel was written but also right now.

Jane Eyre was wild, thrilling theatre, stamping its feet and demanding to be heard, from 1847 to 2017. Ignore Jane Eyre at your peril. Seriously, if you miss it you’ll regret it.

Reader, I loved it.

Jane Eyre is at the Rep until 16 September. Tickets are £15.

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