Shaken and Stirred
Published on 12 July 2022
Theatregoers at Frankston Arts Centre are in for a treat when Brisbane’s shake and stir theatre company bring their captivating, original adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s, Jane Eyre, to the stage. This company is masterful with literary adaptations, particularly gothic literature, having adapted Dracula and Wuthering Heights to great acclaim. It could be argued that nobody does it better.
Though written in 1847, Jane Eyre has themes that still resonate today, such as, love, romance, family, gender roles, social class, moral crisis and the importance of maintaining one’s independence. It’s about a person trying to find her place in the world and advocate her worth. While it’s narrated in a woman’s voice, this is a story for everyone.
“Jane Eyre is so current in its thinking. She’s such an interesting character. She has a strong sense of self-worth. She knows how she should be treated. When treated unjustly, she’s outraged! She’ a real independent thinker. She’s got fire,” says Nelle Lee the play’s co-adaptor, who also plays Jane Eyre.
When adapting a book to the stage, shake and stir look for: its relevance to a modern audience, characters and relationships that people can relate to and whether or not it encapsulates its time and atmosphere. “Jane Eyre has stood the test of time. It is so dynamic. The characters are so rich and interesting. The dialogue keeps the play alive. It’s fast paced,” Nelle says.
Nelle can relate to Jane. “I think most women can relate to not feeling enough like Jane, but Jane pushes past that. She’s headstrong even though she’s constricted. She’s not a complainer despite having a hard life. Jane has a strong moral compass and is determined to find her path so the audience will follow her and cheer for her,” she adds.
There is a famous scene under the chestnut tree where Jane says, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will,”. This is quite a ground-breaking speech considering it was written in Victorian times when women were expected to be submissive, selfless, dutiful and keep their thoughts to themselves.
It’s not just the actors who bring this tale to life, but also the team behind the innovative set and haunting lighting design along with original music and soundscape by multi ARIA award winner Sarah McLeod. Hillary Harrison plays piano and sings the score right on stage. “The music lifts the piece and carries it across time,” Nelle says.
“If you’ve read the book, you’ll walk away with that satisfaction you felt after reading it. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll understand the power of the story, the message of hope, of standing up for yourself and doing what is right and just. It’s a tale for all times.”
“The value for the audience is in the quality of the design and show itself. We don’t scale down our touring work,” Nelle adds. This is a show not to be missed! See it on Wednesday 17 August, 7.30pm.
Book online or call Box Office on 03 9784 1060 to secure your seats.
By ANDREA LOUISE THOMAS