Review: Northern Ballet's Jane Eyre

There are 183,858 words in the novel Jane Eyre (I didn't count them, a Brontë superfan did the hard work). There isn't one in Northern Ballet's version, but every nuanced detail of the original is there.

Dreda Blow as Jane Eyre in Northern Ballet's production of the classic novel. Photo Emma Kauldhar.

Choreographed by Cathy Marston, Jane Eyre premiered a couple of years ago. Back then it was part of the company’s midscale touring programme which meant only audiences at Doncaster’s Cast theatre got to see it in Yorkshire.

Thankfully, Northern Ballet has done the decent thing and brought it back. Marston’s master-stroke is in finding a fresh way to tell a familiar story and one that unashamedly puts the female characters centre stage. Rochester is there too, brought to life by a brooding Javier Torres, but this is definitely and defiantly Jane’s story, danced with beautiful strength and vulnerability by Dreda Blow.

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More flimsy adaptations might have demoted Rochester’s insane wife to a bit part, but not here. Victoria Sibson’s Bertha is wild, highly sexualised and a reminder that Jane Eyre is not a simple love story.

Victoria Sibson as Bertha Mason and Javier Torres as Rochester.

While Marston packs an emotional punch, there is light and shade here, with Pippa Moore’s desperate-to-please housekeeper Mrs Fairfax and Rachael Gillespie’s flighty young Adele responsible for creating much of the former.

Much praise too for Patrick Kinmonth’s set design which is a thing of beauty in its own right. Designed as a series of foils, the moors, painted in broad brush strokes, capture Brontë country perfectly.

Jane Eyre has been reimagined a thousand times before, but maybe never quite so perfectly as this production by Northern Ballet. See it while you can.

To March 14.

Victoria Sibson as Bertha Mason and Javier Torres as Rochester.