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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Northern Ballet: Jane Eyre Review | The Lowry | Manchester

The Northern Ballet bring a spirited revival of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, dredging up the past for a fresh take on the 1847 classic. Overcoming a dramatic childhood, Eyre begins at the age of ten, being raised by her aunt and viewed as a burden. Learning to adapt to her rocky environments, Jane is quickly moved to Lowood school for the poor and orphaned girls, where her life continues to suffer under a new rule. Presented with an opportunity to rise above her pain, Jane becomes a teacher and later a governess. Working at Thornfield manor for Mr Rochester’s daughter, Adele she finds herself falling in love with Mr Rochester who appears to be hiding a troubling past of his own.

Bronte’s novel plays within a feast of themes including independence, family and religion that translate beautifully to the ballet. Alongside live music and choreography formed by Cathy Marston, it’s performances play perfectly into the material. To highlight the development of Jane’s life and for the use of flashback, two Jane’s are presented, surrounded by rapturous but simplistic symbolism to assist in the storytelling.

The leading soloist presents beautiful duet performances separate from the often repetitive and rigid movements within a group. The beauty is found between anyone who offers Jane support as you witness the ballerina poised, towed and lifted by Mr Reed and later Mr Rochester. Much of the humour comes from Adele’s character, a fun, playful child whose connections between her and the maid bring an element of relief to the otherwise tense performances.

The scaled-back production offers a realism that presents rare movements of real drama regarding the visual direction. With such a moody production, it would have been exciting to witness an element of surprise, especially during the house fire. However, Northern Ballet’s visual poetry will demonstrate, even to newcomers, the power of Bronte’s work, all without a word of dialogue.

Impactful through its simplicity, the softened take uses block colours and only a few props to offer an honest performance fuelled by an expressive mix of dance. The Lowry’s set is raw, allowing for audiences to engage in Jane’s personal struggle. Whether you are part of Bronte’s fantastical following or not; this modern take is disarmingly original through its reimagined adaptation that captures the heart of Jane Eyre.

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