3.6.2016 Jane Eyre

Choreographed by Cathy Marstonjane eyre

Jane Eyre is originally a novel written by Charlotte Bronte during the 1800’s. It sees heroine Jane living with her uncle after the death of her parents, where she is poorly treated and locked in the ‘red room’ as a punishment.She is then moved to Lowood Institution where she and her peers are worked hard, and her confidant Helen ends up dying. Eventually she leaves for Thornfield Hall where she teaches a young woman, and falls for the charms of the handsome Mr Rochester. They fall in love and are due to marry, but Jane discovers he is already married. She leaves him, but returns some time later to find there has been a fire in which he has been blinded. They once again become a couple and she bears him a child.

The ballet opened with a misty veil across the stage, on what was possibly a haunted moor – which reminded me of Wuthering Heights. I was surprised to see so many dancers on the stage so early on, but enjoyed the modern feel of the choreography. It was refreshing to see a group of males providing such a strong undercurrent, which was a theme throughout the performance. There is a dark and disturbing feel to the opening scene, with an air of menace and malicious intent. As someone a little rusty on the works of Bronte I did take a little while to get into it, but the penny soon dropped. Potentially having a younger Jane and older Jane was slightly confusing as I was worried I had misunderstood the casting, but it had been a long week!

Humour was very cleverly interspersed throughout the performance – no easy task without words! Jane’s young pupil added a light hearted dimension to the piece, counterbalancing the turmoil and grief never far from Jane’s side. Mr Rochester (Javier Torres) was definitely my favourite character, mainly because he exuded a tantalising combination of cockiness, disdain and sexual promise. I loved the dismissive attitude he projected to Jane (Dreda Blow), keeping her at arms length yet dangling with desire. The repetitive leg movement magnetically drawing her to him will certainly always stay with me. Another character to be mentioned is Blanche Ingram  –  we’ve all seen women like that on a saturday night! The hand gestures and looks of pure disgust were impeccably timed and funny, and I would have liked this played on more as the tension between her and Jane built. The crazy wife Bertha Mason was utterly believable, and her violent choreography had me gripped. Her red dress indicated her fiery (literally) nature beautifully, and contrasted against Jane’s virginal white dress and demure demeanor on her wedding day.

As the performance progressed the group dances lessened and the audience were treated to more solo dances, showing a more traditional approach to the genre. The opening scene was returned to later on in the play as we were re-introduced to St John, which helped clarify the context although I found him an unnecessary edition given his paltry role.  The final scene showed the change in Mr Rochester – the transfer of power to Jane as she returns to him. I noted particularly the dance moves showing her taking the lead and guiding her blinded love into her arms.I think the traditional ballet goer may find the amount of contemporary dance a little outside their comfort zone, but I relished the use of props and strong young men 😉 In conclusion, a ballsy, brave evening out that I enjoyed immensely.

 

1.6.2016 Menopause the Musical

menopause the musical

Apologies for the delay…extenuating circumstances have been at play!! ( poet, know it, etc)

Menopause the musical. Fairly self explanatory isn’t it?? I myself am not yet a woman of ‘a certain age’ but have heard family members complaining about ‘the change’ and so braced myself for a few slightly hysterical hours! In my usual slap dash fashion I didn’t do much investigation prior to rocking up at the theatre, but had seen some positive reviews for MTM, and was pretty keen to see it for myself.

The theatre was packed to the rafters with middle-aged women, and a handful of slightly sheepish men bringing up the rear. Spotted in the audience was the lovely Gillian Taylforth, watching fellow Eastender Cheryl Fergison – we do love a celebrity in Aylesbury!

I was a little confused at the beginning, when the TV at the side of the stage began showing an advert while the house lights were still partially up. The action then began on stage (again with the house lights partially up) with the foursome Linda Nolan, Cheryl Fergison, Rebecca Wheatley and Ruth Berkeley. It wasn’t quite clear to me whether or not the women were meant to all know each other already, or if their friendship formed through the mutual hatred of hot flushes as they perused the shop floor.The musical predominantly remained within one space, but scenes changed to reflect different floors and sections of the outlet.  All the women had very different characters and were a great deal of fun, I just wish I had been able to learn a little more about their lives and backgrounds. Once the house lights were switched off finally it was far easier to concentrate on the action at hand. Fergison provided some fantastic comedic timing, and in my opinion was the glue holding MTM together. The women clearly had explosive chemistry on stage and were a truly lovable bunch.  The first half was pretty funny and I enjoyed the songs, but there was a lack of robust story line and the scene changes didn’t have much purpose.

By the interval I was wondering if there could possibly be any more ways to lament overheating and soggy bedsheets, but was pleased to find the second half the equivalent of a sheet change and large glass of iced water. The songs offered more variety, and the humour took a turn for the better – lingerie and buzzy best buds! If anything I wish the gals had stepped up the sexy talk and bedroom jokes! The vocals were fantastic throughout, although unfortunately at times the microphone volume was a little overwhelming so some of the high notes got lost amongst the loud music. I really enjoyed the development of the characters and the camaraderie MTM evoked amongst the audience – I just wish this had been more evenly distributed during the entire performance.

I would recommend MTM to any woman going through ‘the change’, it’s the theatre equivalent of a few hours amongst good friends. Plenty of laughs, jokes and a few red cheeks…definitely a watch with a large pinot grigio and a bag of maltesers!