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Best known possibly for his adaptation of Billy Liar, Willis Hall the writer of this version of Jane Eyre might have followed the novel faithfully, but I found it a little long and wordy, and slightly confusing to start with, with so many different people narrating, however, once I’d got my head round that, the story unfolded quite well.

A very difficult piece to stage with so many scenes, but the gothic-themed set, designed by Fred Rayment served the play well, the only problem I had was that sitting in the back row the heads of the actors on the higher level of the set were cut off from view – something to maybe consider for future dual level sets.

Lighting was very effective, for example the tree projections when Mr Rochester arrived, and the lighting for the red room, all very evocative and creating the right feel for each particular scene.  I liked the sound effects, however where Graham and Jane were walking on gravel, there walking was not in sync with the sound, which rather spoiled the whole effect.

I loved the musical interludes, led by Mariam, some nice harmonies, I particularly liked God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, the gentle humming of the tune underscoring the lib created a lovely gentle feel.

Costumes were good, fairly simple but in keeping with the times.  I thought Jane would have had long sleeves, as it didn’t ring true for her to have short sleeves in winter, and it concerned me that Blanche was wearing a ball gown to ride a horse!  But they were just small points.

There were some good performances, however I felt a certain level of emotion was missing, I needed more contrasts from Edward Rochester and to some extent Jane Eyre, that said I was impressed overall with Grace Rheinhold-Gittins as Jane, she was on stage nearly the whole time and had a great deal of lib to absorb.   I could however have done with a greater contrast between her as a 10 year old and the quick transition to an 18 year old.

I felt Allan Martin as Rochester was rather one-dimensional.  There was a good rapport between him and Jane, but I didn’t feel his angst with Bertha.

Mariam Gaballa-Gill in her first production for the Rep was impressive, such good stage presence, and a good contrast between the characters she played.

I loved the fact that Mrs. Fairfax (Angela Goss) had a skirt that rustled as she moved – seemed very authentic.  A nice part for Angela that showed there was some kindness in that day and age, against the stern unkindness of Anthony Bird’s Brocklehurst and Rona Cracknell’s Mrs. Reed – both good portrayal’s.

Isabelle Lepore and Lydia Gibbs covered various of the younger roles extremely well, with Annalise Carter-Brown, Sarah Payne, Graham Thomas, Cathy Maile and Adam Croft covering the more mature roles very nicely.

Not my favourite play from the Rep, I felt it needed more light and shade, but one which had some good very effective moments, and a good first foray into direction for Christine Rayment.

Dunstable Rep


review date:23rd January 2018

Little Theatre, Dunstable

Director:  Christine Rayment


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