Jane Eyre – An Autobiography: Review

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How captivating can one woman be on stage, with nothing but a white sheet for a backdrop and a backless couch as the only prop?

The answer is, extremely, when the actor is, Rebecca Vaughan in Dyad Productions’ Jane Eyre – An Autobiography.

Written and directed by Elton Townend-Jones, this remarkable adaptation brings Charlotte Brontë’s much-loved novel to life, staying true to the novel, as everything is seen through Jane’s eyes.

The story focuses on expectations of class and convention with Governess, Jane Eyre, and the struggles of passion and liberation between her brooding romance with Master Edward Rochester.

Elton Townend-Jones keeps the set extremely minimal. As the performance begins, you may feel dubious towards the lack of props and lighting, but your opinions will swiftly change as Vaughan dominates the stage impeccably.

Suspending belief is key for this performance. The couch on set isn’t just a couch, it’s a cot, a deathbed, a bench… the list is endless.

The use of lighting signifies each room, an intense red for the desolate Red-Room, in which Jane Eyre, when a child, was forced to sleep at night as a punishment. Or, a warm orange glow, for the open fire.

Rebecca Vaughan plays 24 different characters, all of them extremely convincing. It’s mesmerising how she quickly transforms from character to character. Her strong vocals captivate the audience.

Her costume is an example of Elton Townend-Jones’s attention to detail; it’s almost exactly how you’d imagine it to be in the novel – the pale complexion and dull plain dress, emphasising her class.

The fact the performance holds the audience’s attention for 90-minutes is a testament to Vaughan.

Jane Eyre – An Autobiography manages to portray the novel without feeling rushed or forced, making it a really remarkable piece of theatre.

It was a gripping adaptation crafted well by Edward Townend-Jones, making it a credit to Dyad Productions.

Jane Eyre – An Autobiography was at Stafford Gatehouse on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October, and is touring until mid-December.

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