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Local theatre stages Jane Eyre

An excited hush fell over the audience as the first scene of the play unfolded. Jane Eyre, the classic novel by Charlotte Bronte, has been adapted to fit the stage and the Good Company Players opened the play on Aug. 23 using the 2nd Space Theatre and will continue through Oct. 20.

“I enjoyed Jane Eyre because I enjoyed seeing the book come to life,” Kari Maddox, ’03, said. “Yet, the whole time I felt that it was lacking something. Overall, the play was just okay.”

Set in Northeast England between 1832 and 1842, the play chronicles the life of Jane as she makes the transition from orphaned child to governess for a wealthy man. Christine Barth brilliantly portrays Jane and her many feelings of sorrow and inner turmoil. Mr. Rochester (Paddy Myers) accurately played the wealthy owner that employs Jane as governess for his ward, Adele.

“I thought that Jane Eyre was an almost enjoyable romp through life in the 1800s,” Jamie Meadows, ’03, said. “The actors that portrayed Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester performed their parts well. They were realistic and brought the novel to life.”

While working for Mr. Rochester, Jane develops strong feelings for her employer. Jane and Mr. Rochester are to marry, only to discover on the wedding day that Rochester is already married to Bertha Mason, who resides in the estate’s attic due to insanity.

Jane flees from a haunting true love, but her path eventually leads her back to Rochester and his love. Jane eventually returns to Rochester, only to discover Bertha is dead as a result of a fire she started. Jane and Rochester eventually triumph over their emotional and physical scars and unite in an everlasting love.

“Jane and Rochester’s love was interesting,” Molly Sargent, English teacher, said. “At first glance, you wouldn’t think they had a chance. But they fill a hole in each other’s lives. They make each other better people, for she learns to trust and Jane brings the good in Rochester out.”

Yet after a brief showing on Broadway, the Good Company Players do not live up to the high standards in which Jane Eyre had earlier been performed while on Broadway with the musical version.

“The supporting actors of the Good Company Players did not accurately portray their characters,” Meadows said. “They would have done better if there had been duct tape over their mouths.”

The few supporting actors attempted to play a multitude of minor characters and, in many instances, the audience did not realize which character the actor was portraying. The minor characters were not convincing.

Sargent and journalism advisor Greg Stobbe took yearbook and journalism students to New York City two years ago to a journalism conference at Columbia University. While there, the group also took in Broadway shows.

“It was so cool to see Jane Eyre on Broadway,” Sargent said. “It is one of my favorite books and seeing it made the story have so much more impact. It was a musical, and I loved the music. On Broadway, the characters were just how I had pictured them and seeing the play in Fresno could be compared to reading a good book and seeing an inferior movie on the book.”

Junior English honors students are likely to read Jane Eyre in second semester and will most likely get more out of the class study than attending the stage production.

Jane Eyre will be playing Thursday through Sunday until Oct. 20 at the 2nd Space Theatre located in the Tower District, Fresno. Student tickets are available for $10 and regular admission tickets are available for $12 and $14. For more information, call 266-0660 or visit

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