Allan Taylor Reviews



Sideshow Theatre Company

Jane Eyre: The Musical


Based on the Novel by Charlotte Bronte


Adapted by John Caird


Directed by Phillip Halpin


Musical Director - Stephen Day


Bridewell Theatre


December 2 – 13, 2008






ary Couzen

A review by Allan Taylor for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Based on Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre is an orphan who is sent to live with her only living relative- the widow of her maternal uncle, Mrs. Reed. There she is tormented by her new guardian and her children, so she is sent to a charity school, only to escape years later. She finds work as a governess, and falls for the master of the house, Mr. Rochester. But as Jane suspects, the house harbours a terrible secret.

Despite my cynicism (after a million novels with ‘the musical’ placed after their name), Jane Eyre is genuinely touching, heartfelt and inspiring. John Caird’s book provides suitable segues between the numbers that are so emotively written by Paul Gordon. Early pieces such as “Forgiveness” will find you empathising and applying Jane’s strong spirit to your own life, while fastidious numbers like “Painting His Portrait” carry the action along.

Heather Longman and Lee Thompson as Eyre and Fairfax respectively make a good double act, and well cast to suit each others nuances and subtleties. The delightfully sprightly Lesley Curtis as Mrs. Fairfax plays the right amount between comical and chatty and concealing the dark underbelly.

Brought together well by director Philip Halpin and excellent fullness of sound orchestrated by Stephen Day (with an orchestral arrangement on the balcony above the stage), its not what you would expect from the Bridewell. Emotive numbers set off by the actors’ ability to ‘fill the room’, I couldn’t help but want a bigger space for the production.

There is a slight time drag factor that could have easily been remedied by progressing the narrative more quickly in between songs rather than giving five minutes here and there to everything, but it still doesn’t detract from its main thrust.

An inspiring story to take from, and a challenging novel to adapt, it’s thankful that Gordon and Caird pulled it off so successfully and this interpretation does it justice. Though the concept may be a bit hackneyed, the execution is excellent and the writing is good.

If you’re a fan of the book or love strong women characters, it’s definitely worth a trip to check this venture out.


Jane Eyre: The Musical is playing until the 13th of December

Performances 2nd-6th December and 10th-13th December at 7.30pm,

Matinees on the 6th, 7th and 13th December at 3pm

Tickets £15/ £12.50 concessions

For more info visit http://www.stbridefoundation.org/bridewelltheatre/index.html
or call 020 7353 3331







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Allan Taylor Reviews