Amanda Hale and Tom Burke star in a brand-new BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel. Orphan Jane learns at an early age that self-control is the surest means of retaining self-respect in adversity. It is a lesson that serves her well in the years ahead, as she endures the misery caused by her love for the secret-bearing Edward Rochester. This full-cast production is dramatised by best-selling novelist Rachel Joyce. Duration: 2 hours 30 mins approx.
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One of the most curious facts in all of English literature is that in the late 1700s, possibly as early as 1787, when she was just a wickedly intelligent teenager, Jane Austen began satirizing the Bronte sisters, who would not be born until many decades later. Austen's Juvenilia, particularly Love and Freindship [sic], and her more mature work Northanger Abbey, stand collectively as a glorious spoof of all that Charlotte Bronte would write about with deadly earnestness sixty years later in Jane Eyre: Gothic horror, blood and gore, mists and moors, screams and terrors in the night, madwomen locked away in attics, swoonings and faintings galore. Bronte, who romanticized suffering to the highest possible degree in her personal life as well as her writing (who else but a Bronte could manage to die of morning sickness while pregnant?), presents Jane Eyre as a Romantic sufferer extraordinaire. Jane is humorless, beaten down by fate and her own moody fits of passion at every turn, until finally Rochester, her love object, is so much more beaten down than she is that she can finally consent to be his wife. The whole thing is so completely without humor or any consciousness of its own absurdity that it works ONLY if you look at it with Jane Austen's winking eye, imagining how fun it would be to satirize.
This production succeeds in doing just that. The story is so perfectly distilled to its essential Gothic-horror elements, complete with amazing sound effects, that it would make the perfect Halloween listen. The script is perfect, the acting impeccable, the production values and editing flawless. I never thought I'd say this of ANY production of Jane Eyre, but I'm sure I'll listen many more times. Highly recommend.