Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More on my bete teale

Well I've googled til my googler was sore, and I can't find ANY negative reviews of Polly Teale's supremely annoying adaptation of Jane Eyre, except the one by Michael Feingold in the Village Voice. So I'll repeat it here:
Meaning to view the myth through a modern feminist prism, Teale exploits a predictable strategy: The mad wife locked up in Mr. Rochester's attic is the heroine's Doppelgänger (or more precisely Doppelgängerin), beginning as the naughty second self for whose misbehavior her aunt punishes her in childhood. Extending this English-department notion over three hours of theater produces exactly the diminishing returns you'd expect— especially since, in accordance with the official feminist rules for approaching nonfeminist women's literature, the principal male figure has to be utterly deromanticized. Or—no doubt—it's sheer and utter coincidence that Penny Layden is a touching (though pinchily dry) Jane, Harriette Ashcroft an effective madwoman, and Sean Murray's Rochester a gravelly, emotionally monotone disaster of a performance. His mastiff, growled by Michael Matus, has more subtlety as well as more animation, and those spectators who come back for the second half must be among the very few who have ever hoped Jane Eyre would forget Rochester and marry St. John Rivers, to whom Matus gives a glowing idealist zeal.

That's certanly a bad sign if the audience wants Jane to go off with St. John. Nobody in the audience for my production wanted that. Except my mom.