Chester Theatre Company, Chester, MA
though July 10, 2016
by Mary Fernandez-Sierra
Lovers of both fine theatre and classic literature have an introspective, romantic experience awaiting them in Chester Theatre’s first offering of the season -- “My Jane” by Daniel Elihu Kramer.
The play is a creative interweaving of the story of “Jane Eyre,” and the reminiscences of four contemporary people sharing their first encounters with Charlotte Bronte’s masterpiece. The play meanders back and forth in time, with the four modern folks enacting many of the characters in the classic novel themselves.
The play brings to light the power of story, and how our encounters with truly great literature can draw us in and affect us forever.
Much honor must be given to the versatility of all the actors, playing multiple roles as the story unfolds. Camila Cano-Flavia and Alex Hanna perform the roles of Jane and Mr. Rochester with quiet intensity, and Laura Ramadei as the narrator tells their tale as only a true bard can do: giving just enough so the audience creates the scenes as much in their imaginations, as the performers do onstage.
A remarkable performance is given by Claire Siebers, portraying numerous characters who appears very quickly on and off throughout the play. The mannerisms and physicality of each character as she brings them to life, often instantly, are a joy to behold.
Director Knud Adams keeps the elements of past and present, multiple settings, and many characters in balance for this production successfully. The transitions are seamless and flowing, allowing the audience to wander freely through the reflections of several modern individuals, as well as the romantic imagination and characters of Charlotte Bronte, throughout the play.
Kudos must be given for superb set and lighting design by Oona Curley, for support in all the storytelling. The classic library-paneling backdrop affords itself beautifully to both new and old scenes. The lighting changes also help make transitions from “now-to-then” believable, and far more than memorable.