Sunday, 26 March 2017
Charlotte. Emily. Anne.
These are famous names, in that one need only repeat them as a trio and most readers or listeners will know exactly which Charlotte, Emily and Anne you mean; chances are it's not your dowager aunts. But more often we refer to them, perhaps too often, as "the Brontës", as though they were a single unit with a single set of concerns and interests, or a single style, rather than three fiercely delineated individuals. This is misleading and unhelpful; these remarkable sisters differed dramatically from one another even taking into account their clear similarities. That they did live and grow up together, their fates so closely intertwined, is conveyed in the curiously-titled "Brontë", the single solitary surname resounding as it does with a sobriety and dignity that feels almost regal, as though it warrants a preceding "The House of...". Mercifully, however, Polly Teale's 2005 play also has the common sense to treat them as separate individuals with all the joys, difficulties, and complexities that entails, all of which Thistledown Theatre's recommended production (running until 1st April in the Old Library, University Church, Oxford) brings to the fore.