England's Shared Experience's stage version of Charlotte Bronte's classic novel, Jane Eyre, will end its brief run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Feb. 13. The 25-year-old company made its U.S. debut last season with the critically acclaimed Anna Karenina. Jane Eyre had its first performance Feb. 8.
Stage adaptations of towering works of literature are Shared Experience's bread and butter. In the past, the troupe has mounted versions of War and Peace and The Mill on the Floss. Those two works were co- directed by joint artistic director Polly Teale, who also adapted and directs Jane Eyre.
In Teale's adaptation, the title character is represented by two actresses, one playing the public version of the governess, clad in gray with tightly bound hair and tightly controlled emotions; the other playing Jane's alter ego, dresses in red with wild flying hair and full of sexual impulses. The first Jane locks the latter in an attic room early on when she discovers a fiery and opinionated personality will win a girl no friends in Victorian England. Additionally, Shared Experience's physical type of theatre employs two actors as animals, one playing Rochester's excitable hound, the other his tempestuous horse.
The cast of Jane Eyre includes Harriette Ashcroft, John Blackham, Penny Layden, Michael Matus, Hannah Miles, Sean Murray, Philip Rham and Octavia Walter. Some of the actors will play several roles. The evening runs two hours and 40 minutes with one intermission.
Tickets to Jane Eyre range $20-$55. BAM is located at 30 Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. For more information, call (718) 636-4100. -- By Robert Simonson