Can a Hackney-borders theatre change your life?

Bill Knight’s picture shows Hannah Maddison, as Jane Eyre, and Joss Wyre as her charge Adele

FOR SOME PEOPLE, Jane Eyre is more than a love story, it’s a life story. For others, it’s life-changing. For many men, it’s a girly story.

The Rosemary Branch Theatre, one of London’s greatest little stages, hidden above the eponymous pub in Islington, on an edge of Hackney borough, takes the life-story view, and one of its artistic associates, Bryony J. Thompson, has adapted the book. So the ill-educated among us can don’t need even to read this gothic proto-feminist ghost-story-romance, we have only to sit back and absorb the show.

What’s the plot? Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) set the novel in 1840s England. Heroine Jane, after a difficult start in life that has failed to break her spirit, becomes governess to the ward of a Mr Rochester, inevitably falling in love with him.

Melodramatic, yes, and that’s a great reduction of Jane Eyre. But the story “illustrates a passionate and tenacious woman’s search for a wide, rich life”. Well, that’s how the Rosemary Branch people put it.

David Altheer 120214

Cleo Sylvestre and Hannah Maddison the after-party for Jane Eyre at Rosemary Branch pub Islington London 2014 © david.altheer@gmail.com
After-party: Hannah Maddison, centre, chats with a friend after this week’s press preview

* Rosemary Branch Theatre, 2 Shepperton Road N1 3DT (near a 76 bus stop), Wed 12-Sun 30 Mar 2014 (no show 15 Mar 2014) Tues-Sat 7.30pm, Sun 6pm, £13, concessions £11, Tuesdays £10. Tickets available via 0207 704 6665 or the website 

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink

* Main picture by Bill Knight of Bryony Thompson’s wonderful production: the outstandingly talented Hannah Maddison, as Jane Eyre, and Joss Wyre, excellent, as her charge Adele, two of a superb cast.

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