After this production had been chosen and cast, with rehearsals already underway, director Kevin Dicker unexpectedly died very suddenly. Consideration was given as to whether or not to continue but the decision to carry on was unanimous, and I app-laud the company for doing so under such sad circumstances. It was pleasing too to see that another Ferndown group, Phoenix Musical Society, were happy to step in to provide the period costumes needed, as it was Kevin’s own company, BSP, who had supplied such things in the past. Paul Marcus took on the director’s reins as well as designing, with Richard Harker, an impressive set that served the production well.
There can’t be many people who are not familiar with Charlotte Bronte’s book about the young lady who joins Edward Rochester’s household as governess to his ward, Adele, and Charles Vance’s adaptation keeps pretty much true to the original. I did notice what appear to be one or two anomalies in the script, mainly concerned with the eating, or otherwise, of food – for example, actually seeing Jane tucking into soup and then hearing the housekeeper remark that she hadn’t touched it, but apart from that… .
Although there is a large cast, it is just two characters who are the main focus and Ferndown Drama couldn’t have found a more perfect pair. I absolutely loved Polly Ashness as Jane, as in every way she is the epitome of the character and her acting skills beautifully bring out the change from an unhappy, rather servile young woman to a strong, determined person ready to devote her life to the man of her choice. As that man, Jon-Michael Lindsey completely commands the stage as Rochester, and it is a real joy to watch him completely inhabit this complex character and bring him to life with such tremendous effect.
Among the supporting cast, too many to mention, I was particularly impressed by Dawn Hollington’s characterisation of the mysterious Grace Poole. Dawn is one of those actresses who always shines, even in a fairly minor role, and this occasion is no exception.
A final shout-out, too, for those responsible for sound, lighting and props, all of which were spot-on.
Future performances: 27-29 October at 7.45.