Straight from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Publick Transport Theatre Company recently brought ‘We Are Bronte’ to Nottingham. They performed for one night only at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Theatre, giving a short-but- sweet performance of just an hour with a chance for discussion with the actors at the end. All I can say is it’s definitely worth a watch!
To be quite honest, I don’t know how to describe this performance; I’ve honestly never seen anything like it before, nor do I think I will again. Obviously, the title and theatrical synopsis given on the Lakeside Arts website (http://www.lakesidearts.org.uk/theatre/event/3283/we-are- bronte.html) reveal that inspiration was drawn from the famous Bronte family. However, whilst the more obvious aspects drew upon the iconic wind of Yorkshire’s moors in ‘Wuthering Heights’ and the feeling of entrapment from ‘Jane Eyre’, the actors also made a biographical nod to the Bronte siblings themselves.
‘But what was the story?’ I hear you ask. In truth, I just don’t know. My only advice is to go see for yourself. It was simply remarkable to me that two actors could fill a whole stage using physical comedy without a feeling of emptiness. It’s also clear that all shared in the humour, as young and old alike sniggered throughout the performance. But this was also matched by moments of poignancy as the piece switched quickly from the downright silly to tragic truth of the Brontes’ lives. In the post-show discussion, Sarah and Angus emphasised their wish to challenge comedic convention and to make the audience question at which points it was and wasn’t appropriate to laugh.
Yet, the discussion did also reveal how much they valued the subject at hand. Sarah explained that ‘it’s not a parody and it’s not an interpretation’, instead they wanted to pay ‘homage’. For me, this was most clear in the play’s final moments. The stark backdrop of grey-washed panels was inscribed with the names of each sibling: Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell. In such simple gestures, the audience was left simultaneously with sentiments of sadness and admiration for the Bronte family and the hardship they suffered. Personally, I loved this little twist.
So, to sum up the thoughts of a satisfied but equally bewildered spectator, I think this show is definitely one to watch but isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a beautifully plotted interpretation of ‘Wuthering Heights’ or ‘Jane Eyre’ then this isn’t for you. But if you’re searching for something different that will make you ask ‘what on earth?!’ then go for it and you won’t regret it. I give this performance 3 stars.
See a sneakpeak from Fringe Festival here: https://vimeo.com/177361886
If you fancy delving deeper into the company, production info or want more photos: http://www.chezbarr.f2s.com/publicktransport/bronte.htm
If you also fancy nabbing yourself a theatre ticket for £5 at a modern venue that’s right on campus, visit: http://www.lakesidearts.org.uk/home.html#
Edited by: Jess Greaney