THE tale of Jane Eyre, an abandoned child who becomes a confident young woman and earns the love of a wealthy land owner, written by Charlotte Bronte 170 years ago , continues to enthral people today.
It’s adapted for stage by Sally Cookson who originally wrote a marathon two part, four and a half hour version. It is still jointly performed by Bristol Old Vic and the National Theatre.
Even the new timing of three hours, 15 minutes is long but it remains gripping.
Not so gripping is the set, a wooden structure with metal ladders which seems far too futuristic for the times. Where are the sweeping staircases of Lowood Hall?
The acting offsets this. Nadia Clifford plays the feisty Jane with confidence. There’s a lovely moment when she realises she has fallen in love with Tim Delap’s oh so masculine Mr Rochester.
Their romance is overshadowed by the presence of Bertha, Rochester’s insane wife who Jane only becomes aware of later in their relationship.
Instead of the usual animal-like shrieks, Melanie Mason sings hauntingly and beautifully from her attic bedroom. However does she reach those high notes?
Hannah Bristow takes on five roles but is at her most charming as Adele, the lively French lovechild of Mr Rochester whose governess is Jane.
Another master of multiple roles is Paul Mundell who does a creditable job of becoming Mr Rochester’s dog!
I love the three on-stage musicians and the occasional moments of dance.
* Jane Eyre is at the Lowry until Saturday, April 15. For tickets, telephone the Lowry Box Office at 0843 208 6000. Star rating: * * * *