Jane Eyre: An Autobiography (4 stars)

This article is from 2016

Jane Eyre: An Autobiography

Rebecca Vaughan excels in Dyad's Charlotte Brontë adaptation

While that unfamiliar extended title may suggest a new spin on a literary classic (a staple tactic of Fringe theatremakers), rest assured: this is the same Charlotte Brontë-penned gothic romance you (possibly) know and love, adapted by Dyad Productions under its original title. It follows the life of Jane Eyre who, after a dismal childhood of abuse at the hands of a vicious aunt and a pious schoolmaster, uses her smarts to land a cushy job as governess of Thornfield Hall. There, she tutors a young girl, Adèle Varens, whose guardian Mr Rochester proves a volatile but alluring figure …

Call us overcautious, but we'll avoid any further spoilers for a 169-year-old book. Sole performer Rebecca Vaughan pours her soul into making Jane an emotionally sympathetic hero for the audience to follow, and while her rendering of the supporting cast is sometimes less nuanced (Rochester only ever seems to growl or bellow; the peasantry is caricatured as a set of ee-by-gum yokels), they're at least distinct and easily recognised. Writer / director Elton Townend-Jones has done a good job of condensing the novel into 90 gripping minutes, and the staging – an off-white backdrop and couch, transformed by lighting cues – is elegantly simple.

Assembly Roxy, 11.15am, until 29 Aug, £12–£13 (£11–£12).

Jane Eyre: An Autobiography

Charlotte Brontë’s gothic subversion of fairytale romance is adapted for the stage – under its full title – by writer/director Elton Townend Jones.  Performer Rebecca Vaughan plays more roles than just Jane.