Writer: Emily Bronte
Adaptor: Stephanie Street
Director: Emily Lim
Reviewer: Ann Bawtree
The choice of Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights as the basis for a play is ambitious but understandable. The subject matter of unrequited and doomed love is well suited to the age of members of the splendid National Youth Theatre. This is indeed an organisation to be admired and supported by all who love the theatre, giving training and showcase opportunities to many.
The story is complex and features many characters. This number has been increased greatly in this new adaptation by Stephanie Street. There are five Cathys, (Francene Turner, Megan Parkinson, Grace Surey, Lauren Lyle and Paris Iris Campbell) partnered by five Heathcliffs (Govi Singh Chera, Conor Neaves, Luke Pierre, Oscar Porter-Brentford and Oliver West). These are supported by the six other main characters of the original story played by Ellise Chappell, Jason Imlach, Alice Feetham, Melissa Taylor, Cole Edwards and Andre Hanratty.
Cecilia Carey’s set is simple and extremely effective. What appears to be a slag heap stands in front of backdrops of fluttering black plastic sheets. This shimmers a metallic green like a raven’s wing under the lighting of Josh Pharo and with Emma Laxton’s wild wind, paints the haunted moorland. All the while Daniel Saleeb’s original score keeps the nerves jangling. The slag heap, ingeniously constructed of ground up rubber tyres, at first represents a grave but, on being dismantled, reveals the table and chairs needed for the many successive scenes.
As the principal Cathy and Heathcliff re-live scenes from their past, their story is told. However, anyone unfamiliar with the original could find it difficult to follow the intricacies of the storyline. It runs for nearly an hour and a half with no interval. Dialogue is in twenty-first century gutter language which raised a few titters from the audience but then, Emily didn’t mean us to be rolling in the aisles.
An excellent vehicle for this talented young cast. This production assures us that British theatre is in safe hands for several decades to come.
Runs until 4December 2015 | Image: Helen Maybanks