Charlotte Bronte's famous novel, with its spirited young heroine striving to leave a harsh childhood behind and find love and her place in the world, has a perennial appeal which has inspired many ver
Charlotte Bronte's famous novel Jane Eyre, with its spirited young heroine striving to leave a harsh childhood behind and find love and her place in the world, has a perennial appeal which has inspired many versions on film, stage and television.
In a new stage adaptation by Laura Turner, which comes to Frome's Merlin Theatre on Saturday, is directed by Nick Lane and the focus is on Jane's adult life, but glimpsing her childhood through flashbacks.
At times dark and intense, the play shows Jane as fiercely independent and follows her as she leaves school to become a governess at the bleak Thornfield Hall.
Here she falls in love with her employer, the enigmatic Mr Rochester, but is forced to struggle with her conscience when she discpvers his hidden past.
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This adaptation is true to the spirit of the novel, but is refreshed and adapted for the stage.
Jane dares to dream – but will she trust her head or follow her heart?
Laura said: "I've loved the novel ever since I first read it when I was about 13 and I can remember the world Charlotte Brontë creates so clearly.
"There's something completely enthralling about Jane; she's such a fascinatingly complex character, so full of contradictions in her dreams and ambitions, that she feels real in a way characters in books don't always.
"I think at the centre of Jane Eyre is a dilemma we can all identify with: whether to follow our head or our heart.
"Jane has to face the crushing realisation that our ideals don't always match up to real life, but she never allows herself to become a victim because of this. She is firmly in control of her destiny and her decisions and choices push the story forwards all the time.
"So in this sense, Jane's story is the perfect starting point for the drama of a play.
"Of course, the novel itself has been called one of the first feminist texts and for me as a young woman of a similar age to Jane, there's something about her thirst for adventure and excitement that really chimes.
"She's always seeking more than what society and those around her want to allow her, and that hunger for knowledge, independence and self-reliance feels just as poignant today as it must have when the novel was first published in the 1800s.
"Jane captures the excitement and the apprehension of not just being young but of being alive. She seeks adventure yet craves love and warmth.
"Beneath everything else, she wants a home: a place to belong. And what simpler human hope is there than love?
"It's so exciting seeing what Nick and the actors bring to the script once it's up on its feet and I hope the actors and audiences enjoy watching the play as much as I've enjoyed working on it.
"I think part of the reason Jane Eyre has remained so popular is that everyone has different ideas about it.
"It raises questions that are difficult to answer – is Jane right in the decision she makes about her future with Rochester? Is Rochester culpable for the horrors of Thornfield? And is Bertha – the famous madwoman in the attic – victim or free spirit?
"Hopefully audiences will continue to ponder these questions and more after leaving the theatre.
"The adaptation makes clear my own stance on them and just as importantly, on Jane's independence, forthrightness and enviable spirit."
Jane Eyre is staged at 7.45pm and tickets cost £12 with a special concessionary rate for schools.