REVIEW: HULL TRUCK THEATRE ‘JANE EYRE’ THE MALTINGS
WE may only be in March but last week a theatre group arrived in Berwick with a show that made an early claim to being one of the finest The Maltings will see all year.
Adapting a classic piece of literature can put an ensemble on rather dodgy ground no matter how talented they are but Hull Truck’s adapter Laura Turner, director Nick Lane and a cast of only three not only avoided becoming unstuck, they took Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ by the scruff of the neck and produced two hours of enthralling theatre.
I make note of the number of players on the stage as anyone who has read ‘Jane Eyre’ or seen any TV adaptations will know that the story has its fair share of protagonists but this talented trio didn’t just cover all the bases they made each character truly believable.
First mention must go to Rebecca Hutchinson who as heroine of the piece, Jane, never left the stage but at no point looked like she was floundering. She commanded the spotlight like any leading lady should but not in a ‘look at me now’ manner.
She made Jane a strong but not overbearing presence making it very easy for the audience to have empathy for her and her predicament right from the outset.
Whether it was stepping outside of the action to give a solo narrative or interacting with those around her Rebecca was absolutely fantastic.
The same could also be said for Andrew Dowbiggin and Viktoria Kay, who morphed from one character to the next in a blink of an eye, with the help of Sian Thomas’ terrific costumes.
Andrew took on a number of roles but the one he will rightly receive the plaudits for is Mr Rochester.
Jane’s employer cum love of her life was a character of many shades but Andrew showcased them all with real conviction. He was rigid and stand offish when required but as Rochester’s romantic intentions towards Jane came to the fore, Andrew was passionately smouldering.
He and Rebecca shared great chemistry as they did with Viktoria who had the greatest number of parts to turn her talents to. She weaved from the motherly Mrs Fairfax to Rochester’s playful yet confused daughter Adele, via Jane’s wicked Aunt Reed with ease.
And what impressed me the most is that the audience could have been wholeheartedly forgiven for thinking they were witnessing a different actress each time.
Like Rebecca, Andrew and Viktoria rarely left the stage but at no point was there any blurring of personas; each character they brought to life brought something different and unique to the table.
Hull Truck have appeared at The Maltings a few times now and on the evidence of their latest production, an invitation to return again will be in the post already.