Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall tells the story of Helen Graham (Phoebe Pryce), who arrives at Wildfell Hall with a young child and maid.  Gilbert Markham (Michael Peavoy) is attracted, but her life is a mystery until she presents him with a journal that tells her shocking past.  Directed by Elizabeth Newman and adapted by Deborah McAndrew from the novel by Anne Bronte, this is a wonderfully paced production, cleverly structured and with powerful drama.

How to sum up this play?  Nineteenth century framing, contemporary dialogue and themes that are timeless.  Certainly some will find the mixture difficult, but I loved this play.  By using contemporary dialogue the issues – duty, use and abuse of power in relationships, gender equality, alcoholism – are highlighted and made relevant to today.  Modern themes of emotional manipulation within marriage are strongly drawn out.  Helen’s internal justification for what she does will resonate with many people today.

It’s a brave decision to take the action back to an earlier point in Helen’s life at the start of the second act, using the inevitable doubling up.  But the director and writer just about get away with it, and we buy into the conceit as time periods overlap through the reading of Helen’s journal.  There’s a great balance between what is revealed and what is withheld.

This production updates a classic text in a very similar way to the recent Ghosts at HOME, and the end result is equally powerful.  The small stage in the round adds to the claustrophobic feel, and draws us into a compelling story.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

3 Responses to “Tenant of Wildfell Hall”

  1. Julie Murphy says:

    I saw on the forum you had a white screen but I didn’t see how it got resolved. I’m desperate to get out of my white screen. Can you provide any suggestions for help or point me to help?
    BTW – Nice site!

  2. Julie Murphy says:

    Nevermind! My friendly GoDaddy rep helped. Sorry to bother however it led me to your site which is a positive end to my hunt for help!

    • QuietManDave says:

      Thanks for your comment Julie. Mine turned out to be an old PHP setting on the host. You learn something new every day!

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