Monday, 14 November 2016

“Bronte” by Polly Teale
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre.
“Bronte” is a story about the turbulent lives of the Brontë sisters and their family. The year is 1845,their brother, Branwell Brontë, returns home to Haworth, West Yorkshire, in disgrace, having been dismissed from domestic service following an affair with the mistress of the house. As Branwell descends into alcoholism and insanity, bringing chaos to the household, his sisters, Anne, Charlotte and Emily, begin to write... Polly Teale's play is a glimpse into the lives of Yorkshire's most famous daughters and their real, and imagined world as their fictional characters come to haunt their creators.
The Brontës are arguably the most well known family of authors; Jane Eyre is said to be the most read book in the English language, second only to the Bible. Polly Teale asks, and tries to answer, the question of how three Yorkshire sisters were able to change the voice of literature and creates history for female authors in a time of social upheaval and Victorian housewifery.
The three sisters have diverse personalities, which are shown by their novels. Therefore it is vital that the actors do them justice and provide an idea of what life was like for them.Guess what, the three actors did just that
Lucy Theobald plays the eldest, Charlotte, and is the maternal influence in the home, shifting between youthful excitement and desperation at her younger sisters
Emily Brontë is one of the most mysterious of authors, It’s quite surprising that such a young woman was able to write a tale of the darker side to human nature without having that kind of life experience. Charlie Osborneplays Emily carefree and lively, as one would imagine her creation Cathy, but weighed down by disappointment until she becomes a tortured, unpredictable woman longing to return to her childhood.
Probably the least known sister is Anne Brontë, the youngest of the family and the one whose works had a more political and social edge to them. Played by Abigail Mahony, this is her first production for the Lace Market Theatre and as she loves historical drama, this is right up her street.
Daniel Potts (Branwell) and Daniel Bryant (Patrick Bronte) , are strong supports as brother, literary protagonist, father and husband.Dan Potts also makes his debut Lace Market Theatre performance and again what a wonderful debut, engaging to the last as he slips rapidly into paranoia and madness. Daniel Bryant, as always puts in a sterling performance, reliable as ever.
Kayleigh Lupton (Cathy) is another first timer for the Lace Market Theatre and shows a lot of confidence in this smaller, but significant part. Looking at Kayleigh's eyes on stage, you can see she enjoyed the part and is hungry for more, and I for one can't wait to see what's next for her.
Damian Frendo (Heathcliffe and Arthur Huntingdon). Another lesser but important part in the play, Damian makes an appearance about half way through the second act, but as always, the dashing Damian stamped his personality and twinkle on the part of Heathcliffe.
Stephen Herring (Rochester and Bell Nicholls). Stephen has two more contrasting roles here, following on from playing Snug and The Lion In Midsummer Night's Dream. Love the comedy as Rochester.
Cibele Alvarenga (Bertha). Wow! Clad in scarlet, she really is the scarlet woman in this play. Knowing Cibele, I think she loved playing this part. Not only is it a very sexy role, red really suits her and the crazy mad acting was fun to watch as well.
Directed by David Dunford, and possible the first male to direct this play, he brought out the different traits and characteristics of the sisters and the alcoholic brother. The second half with the violence in was spectacular and quite frightening to see.
The set was designed by Linda Croston. Simple but effective but the cinematography backdrop (Matthew Allcock) made the whole set look fuller and big. Even though it may have gone unnoticed by some, I loved the coal fire effect on the right hand side of the set.
Lighting design was by Simon Carter assisted by Peter Hodgkinson, Allan Green and Rose Dudley and the sound design was by Jack Harris. Two important production pieces that gave the play that bit of a zing, as well as creating the atmosphere of the era.
Original music was composed by Aaron Connelly which was a nice touch to the play, making it a bit more personal to the Lace Market Theatre
Wardrobe by Barry Holland, assisted by Doreen Hunt and Jean Newton gave realism and style to the play.
Some may find the flash back sections a wee bit confusing until you get to know the story, but it was a nice touch to have the play start with the actors in fairly modern though non descript garb and go back in time to 1845 by way of an on stage costume change.
It's quite a racy script in parts but that does this historical drama no harm at all in my eyes.You may drift a bit with some of the longer passages of script but stick with it and act two makes up for the slightly confusing flashbacks and scene setting of act one.
Well worth a viewing, and it was nice to see the theatre so well attended on Monday night. "Bronte" is at the Lace Market theatre until Saturday 19 November 2016

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