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Gothic Classic romance Jane Eyre comes to Geraldton’s Queen’s Park Theatre

Jamie ThannooGeraldton Guardian
Nelle Lee has been praised for her performance of Jane Eyre.
Camera IconNelle Lee has been praised for her performance of Jane Eyre. Credit: Shake and Stir/Facebook

Charlotte Brontë’s classic gothic romance, Jane Eyre, is coming to Geraldton with a passionate, dark and emotional performance promised for one night only at Queen’s Park Theatre next month.

Bronte’s work is a tale of love, independence, family and belonging. It’s been adapted hundreds of times on stage, for film and TV.

The version being brought to the QPT has been described as “a faithful yet fiercely original new stage” adaptation by nationally renowned Brisbane-based touring group Shake and Stir Theatre Co.

The group promises a modern touch to the classic, capturing the passion and intensity of the novel with powerful performances and incredible stage effects.

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Bronte’s work tells the story of the titular Jane (played by Nelle Lee), who, after a childhood of neglect and mistreatment, finds herself employed under the wealthy and mysterious Edward Rochester (Julian Garner).

As the two grow closer Jane discovers dark secrets that test her beliefs and commitments.

The novel’s story of a young woman trying to find a way in the world was considered groundbreaking in the 19th century when it was released, and is still considered an important piece of feminist literature. But it was written in a time when women were still very much treated as second-class citizens, so much so that when it was first published in 1847, Brontë used the masculine-sounding pseudonym Currer Bell.

The play features music that will “will set a fire blazing in your soul,” written and performed by ARIA award winner Sarah McLeod, former lead vocalist of the band The Superjesus.

The play has received rave reviews for the performance of Lee, delivering the intelligent, spirited qualities of Jane that made the novel so important.

In a novel in which the entire world seems to be trying to crush her, Jane’s unbreakable spirit remains relatable to modern audiences, and Lee has been praised for capturing that.

Garner’s performance as dark hero Rochester has likewise been praised for enhancing the romantic suspense of the play.

Jane’s inner thoughts are depicted by shadowing figures (played by Jodie le Vesconte and McLeod), highlighting how Shake and Stir have adopted the novel, in which inner turmoil is so integral to the narrative, for stage.

The play’s set design and effects have also been praised for capturing the emotional, dark and stormy atmosphere of the gothic romance classic.

Along with the great reception for Jane Eyre, Shake and Stir’s previous renditions of Animal Farm, Dracula and Wuthering Heights have all also received critical acclaim.

Lee, who co-adapted this stage version as well as starring in the leading role, previously told The Canberra Times that even an audience member unfamiliar with Jane Eyre would be able to easily follow the play.

“The characters are multifaceted and flawed, but still so engaging that audiences will take away a sense of characters who make mistakes,” she said.

Lee said she first read Jane Eyre in high school and loved it. “It was one of the first novels with a heroine who had an opportunity to speak her mind,” she said.

Now she is playing one of literature’s greatest heroines on a national stage tour.

Audiences can catch Jane Eyre at the QPT on Tuesday, October 4 at 7.30pm. Tickets are available on the QPT’s website.

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