I went to see a National Theatre ‘Encore’ streaming of their production of Jane Eyre at the weekend. It was rather a feat of endurance, since they’d condensed what were originally two consecutive evening performances into one three-and-a-half-hour performance. But it was worth the cramped knees.
With a relatively limited cast, and a minimal set, they made the story sing. The acting was superb but the huge advantage of experiencing a live performance on a big screen is that you see every gesture and facial expression in way that is impossible in a conventional theatre performance.
I loved it – even if Mr Rochester disappointed slightly by being red haired – but best of all I have started using my mental picture of the skills the actors used in my own writing. Their body language was like a master class in ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’- not least that of the wonderful man playing Pilot, Rochester’s dog. (No, not in a silly dog-suit, but by acting as a dog. He was brilliant.)