Review: ‘Brontë’ by Polly Teale presented by King’s Company in the Hayward Theatre, Ely, 10th -12th November 2010

It is extraordinary how the lives of three sisters, a wayward brother and an elderly father have captured the imaginations of a fascinated people for over a century and a half. The Brontës have become household names since the world has been caught up in the passionate literary creations of the sisters which contrast significantly with their seemingly ordinary, mundane lives in the parsonage at Haworth on the Yorkshire moors.

Charlotte’s novel Jane Eyre (1847), the tale of a young girl’s suffering, devotion and much thwarted love and Emily’s Wuthering Heights (1847), a tale centred on the wild, passionate bond between Cathy and Heathcliff have become an integral part of our culture.

King’s Company encapsulated perfectly the suffering and pain of the girls as they battled to thrive in a cold world filled with death, prejudice and the frailty of the human mind and body. Charlotte (Lexi Hill), Emily (Tori McIrvine) and Anne (Ruth Scott) sparked each other off with sisterly rivalry, compassion and youthful desire. Charlotte ruled the roost as far as her spirited family would allow, Emily was the wild uncompromising one, while young Anne tried in vain to equal her strong sisters. Branwell (Toby Hill) their wayward brother, like a ship lost as sea struggled unsuccessfully for identity and status and their father Patrick (Rowland Daniel) cocooned himself in his own world of caring for his parish and dealing with the frequent hardships and early deaths of his people.

Director Adella Charlton created a credible relationship between the family’s daily lives and the spirited imaginations of the individuals as their characters and phantoms from their books interwove between the crises within the family.

The imaginative Rochester and the real curate who married Charlotte, Arthur Bell-Nicholls, were effectively portrayed by Rory McCorquodale, Sally Cheng was the unforgettable spirit of Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights and Rob Archer left us with a strong impression of her dark and passionate kindred soul Heathcliff. Bertha from Jane Eyre and her crazed love for Rochester was powerfully portrayed by Annalie Taylor and Heger (Francesco Angrisani) and Arthur Huntingdon (Tony Lesmeister) were also given definitive and effective roles.

This production was challenging for students at a busy school but these fine, talented actors rose to the occasion magnificently. 

For more information about King’s Company contact (01353) 653939 adellac@kings-ely.cambs.sch.uk.

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