Wuthering Heights, adapted by Stephanie Street, is one of three productions in this year’s National Youth Theatre Rep Company. Following the intertwined lives of Cathy and Heathcliff, this play charts their meeting, their childhood, first romances, their inevitable separation and the destruction this leaves in its wake. Directed by Emily Lim, the play allows a range of actors tackle the different life stages of its eponymous characters, told in hindsight from Cathy’s grave. The setting is non-specific, the action interrupted by commentary from ‘the present’, and a poetic edge given to the romance through a sharp, discordant soundtrack, and philosophical interjections from faceless voices behind a screen.
The script let the play down in many ways. Sometimes over-flowery, nonsensical and waxing lyrical about time, stars and flowers, and at other times sweary and downright crass, this story was full of angst, drama and actions with little consequence, as it hurtles towards its predictable conclusion. Understandably, as a rep show, each actor wishes to make their mark, but with each scenario relentless in its emotional turmoil, the results were somewhat overwhelming. Regardless, certain actors navigated their way through this minefield of feeling; Gavi Singh Chera as Graveside Heathcliff was watchful, lurking underneath scenes as they unfolded, but never pulling focus; Alice Feetham gave housekeeper Ellen a lovely air of quiet confidence and stability; and despite her small role, Melissa Taylor provided light relief as pregnant, cake-loving Frances.
The set was very well conceived, and Lim’s directorial use of it was also admirable, being little more than a table, two chairs, and a mound of earth. Blurred faces from behind the plastic backdrop, lit with lanterns, contributed to the spooky atmosphere, and the scene changes were neatly interwoven within the story. A clever design, this show provides some opportunity for actors to showcase their talents, but sadly not quite enough to render this adaptation an unequivocal success.
Review by Amy Stow
Emily Brontë’s classic tale of love, loss and revenge is stunningly re-imagined by Stephanie Street in a bold new adaptation staged by the National Youth Theatre.
When Heathcliff, a mysterious child is rescued and brought to Wuthering Heights, he develops an inseparable bond to Cathy. Their friendship soon develops into a passionate and iconic love, which spans generations and ends with tragic results. A beloved classic adapted for today’s audiences, not to be missed!
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West Street, London, WC2H 9ND
Evenings: Tuesday and Wednesday 7.30pm
Matinees: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 2.30pm
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Show Opened: 25th September 2015
Booking Until: 4th December 2015