Who would have thought that 5 young actors dressed in white, a bench, a clothes rack, a few twigs, umbrellas and a shawl could recreate Emily Bronte's 170 year-old gothic novel in less than 2 hours? Whether you know the story or not, you are translocated to the wild and windy moors of Yorkshire and the two houses in which the story is set - old, isolated and windswept Wuthering Heights and the genteel Thrushcross Grange, with its parlour and parkland. The lighting is minimal, which further enhances the rawness of the moors and, although the soundtrack of contemporary music is brave, it enhances the feeling of current relevance which pervades the production.
The main character, the brooding, troubled Heathcliff, is played by Lamin Touray in his first theatre role after leaving ALRA North drama school. What an assured performance from this young man! But the other 4 actors, Lauren Sturgess, Alex Bailey, Sorcha McCaffrey and Duncan Riches are no less assured in their performances where they each portray more than one of the other key characters; all 5 actors are on stage throughout the performance. I do have a soft spot for Sorcha McCaffrey's Nellie Dean, though, as I went through school with a Headmistress called Miss Dean, who was nicknamed Nellie, of course, and who made sure her girls knew where the nickname came from!
Jane Thornton, who has adapted the novel in such a solid, abridged fashion, has ensured the key messages of class, hatred and revenge, betrayal, abuse and despair are not lost. The Earnshaw and Linton families are both dysfunctional and have a lack of understanding of how their behaviours affect those around them in such negative ways; the themes, although depicted in such an extreme fashion, are just as relevant today as in Victorian times. It isn't all doom and gloom, though - there are touches of levity throughout the play and the happiness at the end when Catherine (Cathy) and Heathcliff are reunited does bring a kind of palpable relief.
My husband was a 'Wuthering Heights' virgin, having never read the book, seen the film or watched a TV adaptation and he was engrossed throughout as were the other members of the highly-appreciative audience. And of course, I now have an earworm of that wonderful song by Kate Bush......
'Wuthering Heights' is being performed by The John Godber Company until November 18th. This play is not to be missed! Book your tickets on 01482 874050.