Best Of 2008

MOST UNCONVENTIONAL THEATER EVENT: Jane Eyre

In the Gorilla Theatre production of Polly Teale’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s famous tale, plain Jane Eyre had an alter ego: the woman “Bertha,” locked in an attic cage but yearning to be allowed the free expression of all her capacities, female and human. The existence of this duo — the real Jane, usually at ground level, trying to navigate through the confusion of life, and the metaphorical Bertha, usually in the attic, signaling meaning — was never intrusive, never a distraction from Brontë’s plot. One commented on the other in a complex modern dance/performance. And this idea, of having Bertha represent Jane’s emotional state, was only one of the pleasures of this superb production. There were also Nancy Cole’s fine directing, Robin Gordon’s thrilling choreography, Katherine Michelle Tanner’s acting as the mild but obstinate Jane and Shana Perkins’ stunning dancing as Bertha. Most moving of all: those moments when the two women acted or spoke together, indicating that Jane had attained her highest self. Unforgettably unconventional.