Shake and Stir's JANE EYRE is a Blazing Success
Two hundred years since its publication, Jane Eyre is still relevant in our contemporary world through its exploration of patriarchal expectations and the role of women and how they should and shouldn't be treated. shake and stir, with the help of director Michael Futcher, has given Charlotte Bronte's iconic story a refreshing, more eerie light whilst still staying truthful to the source material.
As a precursor for the modern woman, Jane is far from your stereotypical damsel in distress. Nelle Lee fantastically encapsulated Jane's personality and wild, fiesty ambitions however, I felt that she was too pretty for the part. Whilst the word plan is very versatile, I expected Jane to be more similar in appearance to that of a scrawny teenager who isn't quite comfortable in their body, rather than a poised women. Lee's chemistry with Anthony Standish (Mr Rochester) sent sparks throughout the entire audience, especially to the high school drama groups who cheered and cooed whenever they embraced. Standish was the perfectly cast in his role, balancing Rochester's stern, arrogant and affectionate sides beautifully.
Helen Howard always has a way of making things look effortless on stage and this show did not disappoint. Her fluid transitions in and out of the plethora of characters she brought to life were such a joy to watch, especially her dance between the teachers at the orphanage.
The work features original music, written by Sarah McLeod which adds another dimension to the narrative as well as her performing the songs live. McLeod's presence on stage helps create the dark ambiance of the piece as she sings the things that are unsaid, serving as a looking glass into Jane's interior monologue as well as showing the secrets of the world around her.
Futcher added delightful moments of comedy into the work in which the daughter morphed into a puppet like creature that moved at every ping and whose voice was controlled by another, further emphasising the powerlessness of a motherless child.
One of my favourite scenes was the one set in the orphanage, in which the girls recited their day to day activities almost like they were playing charades for the audience. It was so exquisitely done and wish such precision and detail that it still replays in my head.
Josh McIntosh's imagery of the contrasting greys and the bright white lighting, blended the female characters into their surroundings, making them almost invisible. And I don't know how Jason Glenwright did it but he set the entire stage on fire and it was such a spectacle to behold. I truly don't think that that's an image that I will ever forget.
The company of shake and stir have created another life for Jane Eyre, in a world that still desperately needs more Jane Eyre's to have the opportunity to stand up to their oppressors. It will make you think, it will make you feel and it will give you hope.
Rating: 4 Stars