Cedarville Theatre’s “Jane Eyre” had many people on the edge of their seats during its opening performance on Thursday Sept. 29. The strange events leading up to and the cacophony of noises occurring within Thornfield Manor are sure to draw attendees into the play.
The first scene of the play is set by a monologue performed by Jane Eyre (Alana Perry) along with the stage’s classic Gothic aesthetic. Jane is in the midst of completing her time at Lonewood School, a boarding school Jane is sent to by her cruel aunt. She has accepted a job at Thornfield Manor as a governess following this estranged portion of her life. Jane is presumed to be an orphan and without kin. Very early on the audience is introduced to two opposing forces guiding Jane through her very peculiar life, in the play itself their identities are not completely revealed.
The physical presentation of Jane’s inner psyche is also especially striking. The two parties include the person who loved her, Helen (Natalia Kirychuk) and the people who did wrong by her, Mr. Brocklehurst (Stephen De Jong) and her Aunt Reed (Merra Milender). Mr. Brocklehurst and Aunt Reed can be seen antagonizing every pleasant experience in her life and reinforcing the negative self image Jane has of herself. Warning Jane to “be on guard,” for she is keen to maintaining deceitful people in her life.
The tone of “Jane Eyre” is much more somber than previous Cedarville productions and requires a certain amount of composure to appreciate its raw emotional appeal. This will be particularly apparent in scenes featuring Bertha (Raven Synatra Simmons) and Grace Poole (Savannah Hart); two captivating characters who present themselves during Jane’s time at Thornfield Manor.
Anticipate attending the show and expect to be compelled to disappointment, sadness, and to experience some fits of laughter. Jane’s life is not a fairytale, but the gothic genre allows for some romance with a rugged, yet loveable love interest.
Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester (Nathan Robertson) maintain a professional and natural charisma despite the intense nature of this play. Their character’s repressed feelings for one another made for a climatic love story that did not seem too far fetched from each character’s repertoire.
Love and autonomy are two internal matters influencing Jane’s decisions. To balance Jane’s broken past, she has become numb to the effect of love to prevent getting hurt again and to keep her misinformed sense of autonomy. In the end, Jane proclaims she would always rather be happy than dignified. This statement is made from a place of acceptance and defiance. Acceptance to the hand she has been dealt in life and defiance of being stagnant in the model of what women should be doing in the mid-1800s.
Take some time before the play to read up on the story of Jane Eyre and prepare to be emotionally aroused.
“Jane Eyre” runs through Oct. 9 in the DeVries Theater. Purchase tickets at the SSC Information Desk, by phone at 937-776-7787, or online at cedarville.edu/ticketinfo.
Nicole “Ellie” Dukes is a third year nursing major who enjoys writing in her spare time. She also enjoys Chipotle runs, casual tennis games with old/new friends, and long walks around her hometown with her red-nose pitbull, Sharmane.