You can read 9 more articles this month
Octagon Theatre, Bolton
“I AM no bird and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will” — thus Charlotte Bronte’s great heroine Jane Eyre declares defiantly as she rages against a world that not only enslaves women but denounces those who speak out in the name of equality.
It's little wonder that the novel caused such an uproar when first published in 1846, with one reviewer accusing Bronte of being nothing more than a Chartist sympathiser. Given the novelist's withering attack on “good” society, it was a label that she was probably proud to wear.
Bronte's story follows Jane’s life from a poor orphan cruelly treated by her aunt and her banishment to an oppressive religious boarding school. As a young woman she appears to find some happiness as a governess for the rather odd Mr Rochester’s ward.
But she hadn’t reckoned with the scary antics in the attic. Fleeing to start again, she suffers near death until a chance beneficiary improves her station. Returning as a wealthy woman, and with Rochester having finally sorted out his attic problem, they can be together as equals.
Janys Chambers and Lorna French’s new adaptation remains faithful to this narrative arc but they've created a play with a very modern resonance.
Jane’s frustration at the lack of opportunity for women hangs like a leaden coat on the shoulders of many now, just as it did in the mid-19th century, and her struggle continues to inspire many of today’s movements for equality and justice.
The young children portraying Jane’s early years do a fine job creating the back story of her resilience and defiance, with the older Jane played by Jessica Baglow. She embodies her as a sharp, intelligent and proud woman who will be cowed by no man and her excellent performance is matched by Michael Peavoy as Rochester.
Marvellously confused and conflicted, he ultimately comes to recognise Jane’s strength, giving him a sense of peace and love.
Jane Eyre may be a novel from the past but its themes certainly strike a note today.
Runs until February 10, box office: octagonbolton.co.uk
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.