Jane Eyre | Ballet Theatre Review
GOH, Belfast • 04 April ’18
By Conor O’Neill • Photos: Emma Kauldhar
The Northern Ballet brings the nationally acclaimed hit Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre to Belfast’s GOH and what an eye crashing piece of modern dance it is. 1040 people, a full house, on opening can’t be wrong, can they/we? Be? For some reason, the orchestra is housed under a chicken-wire frame… from piccolo sax to big beat drums and a huge string section wringing our collective mind to a fever as the haunting drama of Jane’s life of misery to misery to a happy sort of nicely-meets-in-the-middle nice-ness (that word isn’t in the dictionary, but it should be) takes our white-knuckled hand to a new confusion and an infusion of collective but understated post-traumatic-stress-disorder it has to be loved and endured to be believed.
We have all the characters here. Obviously, Jane, Edward Rochester, his red and white flamed disgrace of a wife Bertha, Mrs Fairfax, the Holy Rev. Mr Rivers, Ingram. Deaths come and go. And so do the scenes. Anyone familiar with the book or script will love the burning down of the mansion; the tortured return of Rochester and other big scenes. But please remember, this is not an arduous re-do of an acting play with words intact. This is ballet. The words an actor throws forward with vocal force can only be equaled with a deftness of touch, back bent, shoulders quivering with ache as they count the milliseconds to the next tenuous, momentous stretch no-one will ever see but you will feel.
And with it comes many restrictions and more opportunities: to take a book and have people dance it out is something different; without a word. The only noises to be heard, apart from the orchestra are the whispering screams of bare-feet – maybe with slippers on their soles/souls being dragged across the GOH’s perimeter, a flutter of feet, a few stools being stomped in defiance on the ground. Apart from that: silence. At the mid-session interval, there were words of grumbling from the few: at the end, it all made sense. Yes, the ending gets easier to understand the plot: but only if you misunderstood the plot from the start. Death from start to end: life from start to finish. Started at 7.30. Finished at 9.35 People still on their feet at 9.39. Pit leader Phillip Feeney joins cast on stage. Palms clapped raw.
Apparently, tickets are going fast. Book at the the box office on 02890 2419198 or visit www.goh.co.uk