The Jane Eyre workout

As the Christmas celebrations are approaching, why not try to get in shape not as a plan for the year to come but for Christmas? Why not jog and jump and swing from a bar – all in the Jane Eyre style. Run like a carriage, step like a horse, climb 20 ladders, run across 30 fields, pant like a dog, jump on an armchair, go round and round a wooden frame. I was at first confused but then I wanted to join in.

Jane Eyre (National Theatre, Lyttelton)
Jane Eyre (National Theatre, Lyttelton)

Why Jane Eyre?
Because the theatre performance of Jane Eyre left me energized. Music to jump on, passion to put fire in the bones, actual on-stage fire and a wonderful set of dynamic exercises that will give new meaning to the word “dog”. All topped by a wonderful voice (Melanie Marshall’s scarlet-clad Bertha Mason) who made my hair raise when performing Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” in such a pure and flawless tone that I have been scouring the internet for a copy since…


Madelaine Worrall: You improvise the sense of the scenes and Sally always works very physically, so it’s far removed from the conventional “You stand there, I’ll stand there”. She gives her actors and musicians full range to respond instinctively, almost like dancers. I can only describe it as being like a sculptor with a big lump of clay. You take bits off, then you make a mistake and fill a bit in, and miraculously a form starts to emerge. It’s messy and risky and the sort of thing only subsidised theatre is brave enough to commission. If you tell any commercial producer: “We’ve got no script and we don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” they’d run a mile.

Madeleine Worrall Interview for the Guardian


The aesthetics were beautiful. The metaphors played out with bits of wood or additional characters as the innermost thoughts of Jane.

Ah! By my word! there is something singular about you,” said he: “you have the air of a little nonnette ; quaint, quiet, grave, and simple, as you sit with your hands before you, and your eyes generally bent on the carpet (except, by-the-bye, when they are directed piercingly to my face; as just now, for instance); and when one asks you a question, or makes a remark to which you are obliged to reply, you rap out a round rejoinder, which, if not blunt, is at least brusque.

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

It is not difficult to see why Jane Eyre is best remembered as a romance: The depth, spontaneity, and integrity of Jane’s romantic desire are continually contrasted with the superficiality and egoism of Celine, Blanche, and even little Adèle, females who sell themselves to men for their keep, depending on their feminine charm and good looks to please and flatter men.

Nature, emotion, and expression overmaster reason and social convention in Jane’s daring declaration of love to Rochester:

Do you think I am an automaton? a machine without feelings ? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? … You think wrong! I have as much soul as you, and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty, and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you

The two main actors managed to put all this desire and all this loving into a beautiful theatrical play. I can’t wait to go and watch it again!imgID48410848.jpg-pwrt3


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