Wuthering Heights REVIEW: An epic retelling of Brontë’s tale of tempestuous passion

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Music from the onstage band, dancing and songs are all tossed into the narrative crucible of Catherine Earnshaw and her would-be lover Heathcliff.

On a virtually bare stage that exposes the raw brick walls and lighting rigs, a handful of props, puppets and minimal sets are wheeled on and off while a woman with shrubbery on her head (Nandi Bhebhi) is the symbolic Yorkshire Moor.

The performances are set to stun with Lucy McCormick’s Catherine and Ash Hunter’s Heathcliff leading the charge – she wilful and passionate, he brooding and vengeful.

Atmosphere is provided by lighting, music and a huge video screen depicting dark scudding clouds across which black birds flit like portents of death.

Whenever the novel’s interrelated characters start to pile up, the ensemble sits like old-fashioned schoolchildren scratching names on slates to keep us informed.

The kinetic energy of the performances help the near three hours pass quickly.

McCormick’s highlight is a raging rock song that is more Janis Joplin than Kate Bush and, following Catherine’s death, she spends the rest of the play silently observing the action as a ghost.

The dark, gothic cruelty of the novel is lightened with humour, mainly through Katy Owen who plays both Isabella Linton and her sickly son.

Rice’s calculated primitivism can sometimes seem awkward but in this case it provides the perfect framework for Brontë’s tale of tempestuous passion. Fab.

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