Review: Jane Eyre at Sheffield Lyceum

Nadia Clifford as Jane Eyre and Tim Delap as Rochester. Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg
Nadia Clifford as Jane Eyre and Tim Delap as Rochester. Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg
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A touring production of an ensemble production of Charlotte Bronte’s landmark novel is on at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield.

It was devised by the original cast at the Bristol Old Vic in 2014, from an idea by Sally Cookson, the director.

The show is an absorbing, incisive and truthful adaptation of the work on which it is based.

Nadia Clifford is totally convincing as Jane, an abused but spirited girl who develops into a determined young woman who acts with integrity and compassion. Equally convincing is Tim Delap as Edward Rochester, Jane’s employer – flawed, tormented, witty and contradictory.

Other actors play multiple roles – Paul Mundell being outstanding as both the terrifying Mr Brocklehurst and Pilot, Rochester’s dog.

Much of the dialogue is taken straight from the novel. The poetry which Charlotte Bronte believed to be an essential aspect of her prose is supplied by three on-stage musicians and by some spectacular lighting.

A simple but versatile set facilitates a variety of startling images, and helps the play explore some of the novel’s themes – including the contrasting ones of confinement and freedom.

Melanie Marshall as Bertha, Rochester’s imprisoned first wife, is the surprise element in the adaptation: a figure of great dignity, with a wonderful singing voice, she observes all that is going on, including the strange and destructive actions she herself performs: her presence and her songs contribute to some of the show’s most memorable and moving scenes.

Jane Eyre is on until Saturday 22 April.