Jane Eyre – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Raised as an orphan in poor circumstances doesn’t guarantee that one is doomed to a lack of privileges or a life of sadness. To prove this point, come make the acquaintance of one such creature, an independent and spirited Miss Jane Eyre whose fate experienced many ups and downs at the whims of others. Created by Charlotte Bronte, “Jane Eyre” will exhibit itself in all its Gothic and Victorian splendor at Hartford Stage until Saturday, March 14. Helen Sadler is a strong willed female who knows her own strength and is willing stand up against all odds to win her freedom. No shy and retiring wallflower, as Jane she faces her future with courage and stamina, with a steel backbone and steadfast moral compass.

By placing an advertisement, she overcomes her poor beginnings with a mean and thoughtless aunt Reed (Felicity Jones Latta) to find a position as a governess in the home of a strange and mysterious employer, Mr. Edward Rochester. Her new situation as the caregiver for a young ward Adele (Meghan Pratt) is quite different than her poor treatment with her aunt and cousin John (Grayson De Jesus) at Gateshead and years at boarding school. Jane longs for adventure and travel and hopes her new position at Thornfield Hall will bring her both.

There are secrets hiding at Thornfield, however, and Jane finds herself saving Mr. Rochester’s (Chandler Williams) life when a fire breaks out. As the pair grow closer, he uses wealthy guests like Miss Blanche Ingram (Marie-France Ingram) to disguise his unhappiness and keep his affection for Jane at a distance. When an old friend Mason (Grayson De Jesus) come to visit, another disturbing incident occurs that adds further mystery to the household. Mason hints to Jane that a dreadful secret lurks at Thornfield and inquires if it is revealed would she leave. Jane answers a defiant ”no.”

When Edward proposes to Jane, a revelation on their wedding day causes Jane to fee to the moors. Her return to Gateshead reveals her aunt is near death but is no more forgiving than earlier. A visit to the home of clergyman St John
Rivers offers Jane a new beginning but problems arise. Will Jane and Edward reunite or are their circumstances too damaged to ever reconcile? Will his secrets ever be revealed and resolved? Is Jane destined to die unloved?

Elizabeth Williamson has adapted and directed this splendid version of a classic tale, stuffed with drama and dreams and plot twists and turns.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at https://www.hartfordstage.org/jane-eyre/ Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday and select weekday matinees at 2 p.m.

Follow Jane across the moors, abandoning orphanages and cruel relatives, to unlock secrets and tragedies and discover the elusive promise of love.