Polly Teale’s part-biographical play about the Bronte family in Haworth, West Yorkshire, begins with three modern day women discussing the famous works of three Bronte sisters; Charlotte, Emily and Anne. A seamless costume change into corsets and aprons sees the women take the form of the sisters themselves.
Set in 1845 in the family parsonage home, the play follows the lives of their sisters and their brother Branwell. The isolation, bleakness and boredom of life overlooking the wuthering moors drives their brother to alcoholism, drug abuse, adultery and insanity, but his sisters seek solace in their creativity.
A simplistic wooden set represents the family kitchen with an external door looking out onto the moors. A soundtrack of the howling wind and evocative music helps capture the romance and mystery of the landscape.
Intertwining the real lives of the sisters with the imagined reality of their fictional creations, Bronte is a fascinating insight into the real-life inspiration behind classics such as Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte’s Jane Eyre.
However, audiences without prior knowledge of their texts may find the constant alternation between fiction and biography confusing, and struggle to differentiate between the two.
Bronte is recommended, but with the caveat that you must already be a Bronte aficionado in order to understand the literary references.