Northern Ballet brings Charlotte Bronte’s classic English tale of Jane Eyre to life with an emotional performance of Cathy Marston’s intriguing and contemporary choreographic interpretation of this complex coming of age love story.
Set on a sombre grey stage we meet a young orphaned Jane, whose life is strict and restrictive. The young Jane, danced by Antoinette Brooks-Daw, is expressive, bold and youthfully petulant, as she refuses to accept her treatment and begins to push the boundaries both narratively and physically.
As she begins to rebel she finds herself living in a cold and cruel institution, where her best friend (danced by Kiara Flavin) dies a dramatic and anguished death.
This first act is quite full and if you don’t know the Bronte’s story well, it’s essential that you read the programme so you can follow the fast moving story, that sees Jane grow into an intelligent young woman who moves to the house of her destined love, Mr Rochester.
The leading man, who’s difficult and dark, is admirably danced by Javier Torres, who finally notices the woman Jane has become, after rebuffing the advances of the entitled belle of the ball, Blanche Ingram (danced by Abigail Prudames). Abigail delicately balances the confident and wealthy Blanche against the despondent Jane who struggles to shine at the party. But it’s Jane that ultimately wins Mr Rochester’s heart.
But it’s a heart that holds a secret of a mad hidden wife, who is portrayed by Victoria Sibson with crazed, obsessive and unpredictable movements, that sees her rolling on the floor, legs pushed apart as she thrusts herself at her husband.
Dressed in a torn red dress, she emerges to ruin the illegal wedding, the house catches on fire killing the wife, leaving Mr Rochester a broken man who can finally have and love his Jane.
Cathy Marston’s contemporary ballet hybrid choreography adds depth to the heart wrenching love story. Each movement has a twist on the classical ballet steps, the traditional is combined with contemporary, creating distinct shapes and a unique physical expression of the inner torment of the characters.
Marston’s pours a lot onto one stage, scenes are filled with the entire cast in multi-layered drama in this retelling of the love story told through lyrical and emotional pas de deux with the early feminist Jane and her distressed Mr Rochester.
It’s wonderful to see a female choreographer bringing the story of a strong female lead to the stage, with a unique choreographic language that received a huge applause from the audience.
Reviewed at Sadler’s Wells on 15 May 2018.