The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was unknown to me. Certainly the subject matter that marbles the work of the Bronte’s of alcohol abuse, domestic violence and incarceration of women is apparent. However, Anne Bronte has woven an extraordinary tale of Helen Graham, a reclusive artist who takes up residence at Wildfell Hall; she has a history and the gossip mill runs apace. But she, like all the best heroines, is subjected to the brutality and consequences of her life choices.
The stylish, fine balance Alison Farina has established in this adaptation releases a script of passion, despair and above all it creates a great tale for the fine cast to perform; under the superb direction of Shane Morgan.
Madelaine Ryan and Tom Turner are faultless in their many roles, creating youthful humour, lustful imaginings and deeply believable central protagonists. The dynamic relationship they have as performers is inspiring and mesmerising; hugely enabled by the wit and charm of Morgan’s fiercely clever vision.
This performance was followed by a discussion surrounding the many issues that the novel raises and indeed the Bronte’s work tends to address. It was lively and without question the audience who remained for it made their enjoyment of the piece very clear and the positive debate with leading health experts in the field from the local DHI team addressed many questions concerning the suppression and subjugation of those living within destructive relationships.
It is clearly understandable if puzzling as to know exactly why Charlotte Bronte tried to burn the novel after Anne’s death to “protect” her sister; thankfully she failed and even more telling is the fact it sold out within 6 weeks of its first publication vastly more popular than Wuthering Heights.
It is considered to be the first “sustained” feminist novel and one that in this instance is beautifully articulated and performed bringing it to a much wider audience, for which I am grateful.
Do not miss it.
***** (5 Stars)