The National Theatre’s Jane Eyre arrived in Hull last night as 2017’s latest milestone got off the ground.
The Hull New Theatre was closed in late 2015 to prepare for the City of Culture celebrations. The grand theatre has just reopened it’s doors this weekend after a £16m investment which should bring bigger, better touring productions to Hull while also giving it extra facilities including a new cafe, restaurant and concession outlets.
With Saturday’s stunning Royal Ballet performance out of the way, it was time for the National Theatre’s production of Jane Eyre to take to the newly revamped stage. We had the pleasure of being there on the opening night and here’s why you should get tickets and go see the show this week.
It’s a classic, retold in a modern way
In case you don’t know, Jane Eyre is a classic story which tells of the hardship and cruelty which happens to a young orphan girl. As Jane grows from a 10-year-old at a stern religious school into a teacher, she begins her personal fight for freedom and fulfilment.
The spirited heroine faces life’s obstacles head-on, surviving poverty, injustice and the discovery of bitter betrayal before taking the ultimate decision to follow her heart.
This exciting new stage version of Jane Eyre was originally presented in two parts at Bristol Old Vic and then transferred to the National Theatre (NT), where it’s been re-imagined as a single performance and played to sold-out houses at the NT’s Lyttelton Theatre.
Now touring and stopping in Hull until Saturday, the New Theatre is the perfect stage for such a show.
The set was the biggest surprise to me. Despite seeing the trailer (below) before hand, I wasn’t expecting a platform of wood and ladders to be the actual scenery for the show as I walked in. However, it works out to be quite clever as this modern re-imagining of the show means it takes very little breaks as there’s no need for scenery changes.
It’s all in the lighting and prop drop-downs from the new fly-tower which create each scene. At first, you have to use your imagination a little to get into the story, but the very talented and dynamic cast help you get there with stunning performances from each of them.
With the scenery so minimal, it really meant that the cast had to be top performers as all the attention was on them. This production has only cast 10 performers in total. With the exception of Jane (played by Nadia Clifford), who is on stage throughout the whole show, each performer takes on multiple roles as the story unfolds about Jane’s life.
One of the most memorable performances came from Ben Cutler who played Mason, Mr Brocklehurst and the very lovable dog Pilot. It creates moments of unexpected laughter, and somehow, cuteness as his performance as Mr Rochester’s dog made the audience light-up every time he came on stage.
The New Theatre is back
It’s a long show, as any fan of the book and film-adaptation would tell you. It’s around 3 hours in total with an interval in-between. Fortunately for me at 6’3”, new seats have been installed at the New Theatre which are comfy and have created more legroom than what was there before.
The theatre has now been extended to create stylish, modern areas including the foyer, cafe and new restaurant at the top. Gone is the old spiral staircase leading to the basement bar area. The New Theatre is a joy to walk into and it still retains the classic detailed works in the actual auditorium as well.
The region has really missed big productions like this since the theatre closed in 2015. If this is a sign for things to come, then Hull has a very bright theatrical future ahead for the rest of 2017 and beyond.
Read More: Jane Eyre Event Details and Trailer
Jane Eyre is showing every night until this Saturday (23rd Sep) with matinees on Thursday and Saturday.
Tickets are available from just £15 with concessions available too! You can pick them up from the Hull City Hall box office, by calling 01482 300 306 or going online to www.hulltheatres.co.uk