Jayne Eyre, Daily Racing Form, 1958-05-05


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: JAYNE EYRE By Whitney Bolton NEW YORK, May 3. — In Huntington Hartfords adaptation of "Jane Eyre," now come to the Belasco Theater with its tranquility tranquility a a c c h h i i eved eved tranquility tranquility a a c c h h i i eved eved third leading man and ! after a sea of troubles, Jane is first seen in the first hours of her job as governess at Thornfield. We hear of her early life in an orphanage, slowly we get to know this intelligent, forthright, beautiful girl. And slowly does the strange and impassioned romance of of Jane Jane and and Edward Edward of of Jane Jane and and Edward Edward Rochester, master of Thornfield, unfold. There is no point in delaying the news that "Jane Eyre" is a stately and becoming play, that it unfolds with metronomic steadiness and that it has one love scene of enormous beauty and great feeling. It also has the best stage fire seen since "The Third Alarm." And a magnificent setting by Ben Edwards which, if it seems a repetition of the setting, for "The Innocents," slightly turned a few degrees and ornamented by deer skulls, is nothing against it. So many English country houses have that same construction of the sweeping stairs against a gigantic window. It also has Eric Portman, as Mr. Rochester, giving the role full voice, full gesture and the dominant, demanding quality it requires. Finally, it introduces Miss Jan Brooks to Broadway in the title role, and Miss Brooks is considerable of an addition to our ranks of younger actresses. Lovely, with a nice, warm range in voice, able to hold her own in important scenes, she is a fine Jane. But the rewards are not constant and those recited just above are the major rewards. In between, there is some lagging and larking that is not top drawer dramaturgy and not top drawer work. I think the handling of the Grace Poole mystery is handily done and suspense is sturdily built. The party scene, intended to be dull as a fact, is dull as a performance. The injuring of Richard, Mason during a visit to the mysterious woman locked up in the west wing is brought about with good, melodramatic force.. The plusses are greater than the mi-nusses in "Jane Eyre" as a stage vehicle. but I have to say that it has fustian moments. Now, these may be inherent in and part of-the story and not to be helped. It is a period piece and they, apparently, said and did some odd things in England about that time. Young lords were intended, it seems, to be effete and languid and always to have both a spirited, vital sister and a dominating, conniving mother. In any case, it seems so in the theater. The idea of a man with a mystery and a muddled past living in elegance and shouting membership of a country seat was not exactly new when Charlotte Bronte wrote the story. The idea of an orphan, with no seeming background, marrying well, after suitable vicisitudes, was reasonably new. It cannot be debated, "Jane Eyre" is a great romance, appealing to many throughout the generations it has been a success in films, it still sells as a book. It is an English classic. No one could deny Mr. Hartford his right to dramatize it and I dont think anyone will. Id simply have to wonder if it was a wise task for him to set himself in a day of costly commercial theater. Mr. Portman is very good Indeed in the Rochester role and when he plays his scenes with Miss Brooks he is more than good, as is she. They appear to inspire each other. Generally speaking, ."Jane Eyre" in the theater is a production against which no strong opinions against are valid but which seems somehow to lack that spark, that surge, that makes the difference between ah exciting show and a merely good one. " Motley and Frank Spencer have designed costumes as eye-filling as the Edwards setting. Miss Blanche Yurka and Frank Silvera give the roles of housekeeper and brother-in-law ample attention and vigor, and Miss Norah Howard and Miss Lola Lynn are splendid Ingrams, mother and daughter: little Susan Towers does what best can be done with the role of the ward, Adele. And so .we come, at last, to Demetrios Vilan. He is the director. I dont know, how much he directed and how much he was told to direct. I thought his handling of the proposal scene when Rochester wants Jane to marry him was beautifully staged. The suspense element is skillfully handled by him. As much as one can say, it is a good job of direction, but reports are, from i the road, that he was counselled into some direction he did not himself approve. Anyway, "Jane Eyre" is here.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1950s/drf1958050501/drf1958050501_2_3
Local Identifier: drf1958050501_2_3
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800