A review of Jane Eyre at Bolton Octagon

Innovative, engaging and – at times – frightening. The production of Jane Eyre at the Bolton Octagon Theatre on 24th January was an emotional rollercoaster that had us hooked from the start.

Upon entering the theatre we were immediately struck by the unusual set design. Performed in a ‘theatre in the round’ space, the whole play was set inside a large metal cage-like structure which we feel represented both the idea of Jane’s feelings of being trapped and the industrial revolution. Bertha, the ‘mad woman in the attic’ prowled above the audience in the lighting rig, creating a feeling of discomfort throughout. Smoke billowed from underneath the stage and lighting was used from both above and below for a fully immersive experience.

A range of dramatic styles were used, with characters often breaking down the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience. Metal benches were used creatively to create a variety of locations and different coloured costumes were used to represent different locations within the simplistic set design.

Jessica Baglow, whom we have previously seen in the lead role in Educating Rita, was once again outstanding in her portrayal of the feisty but oppressed Jane, and Michael Peavoy was a convincingly dark and brooding Rochester. We thoroughly enjoyed this new take on a traditional story and would recommend the show to anyone.

Review by Year 13 Drama and Theatre Studies Students

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