Wise Children’s Wuthering Heights takes its form as a creative and all together magical adaptation of the 1847 Emily Bronte novel: Wuthering Heights. It’s serves to tell the story of two young lovers whose social status, race and upbringing become their own downfall. Heathcliff (Liam Tamne) is a young man found and adopted at Liverpool docks only to live his life in the shadows due to his ethnic background and darker features, when he meets adoptive sister Catherine (Lucy McCormick) he falls in love with the strange and mentally unstable young lady. Unfortunately, Catherine has other ideas and instead of pursuing her romance with Heathcliff she marries another man to attain her rank in society and so Heathcliff vows to get his revenge on those he blames for the loss of his happiness. This is a true tale of man into monster as Heathcliff claims his revenge not only on those who wronged him but their innocent offspring too.
This is modern theatre at its best using multi-rolling, song, interpretive movement, puppetry and even a live band. The set is minimalist yet beautiful with the main stage wings being removed exposing the full team of stagehands and cast. Most of the set is made up of a single wall featuring several doors that can be flipped and used on either side and a series of chairs and ladders stacked on top of one another. There is also a projection in the back of the stage used regularly to depict the ever-changing Yorkshire weather.
As for the story of Wuthering Heights, it’s rather dark and serious, that being said Emma Rice has layered in just the right amount of satire to get her audience through without taking away from the darkness of this wonderful Gothic novel. Every character is perfectly flawed allowing the audience to really see these characters for who they are and make up our minds for ourselves as to who we sympathize with and who we do not.
McCormick is hauntingly mad giving Catherine a childlike yet worryingly unstable characterization. It’s clear to the audience that Catherine is making the wrong decision repeatedly but in her mind, she is just thinking selfishly like a child, throwing a tantrum when she doesn’t get her way. It’s not that she doesn’t care for Heathcliff she’s just not mentally mature enough to understand his thoughts and feelings.
Tamne takes us on an emotional roller coaster as Heathcliff making us fall in love with the character, pity him and eventually hate him. His performance is stunning.
Katy Owen has her audience belly laughing bringing the comedic value to the show whilst also playing two lead roles that follow tragic story lines and Nandi Bhebhe brings more laughs with her strong and confident Leader of the Moor.
This cast is exceedingly strong also featuring Sam Archer, Tama Phethean and Mirabelle Gremaud as well as many more bringing multiple characters to life.
Whilst the plot is rather complicated at times with a lot to keep up with, it makes for a fantastic watch. Emma Rice has once again brought a much-loved novel to life and gave it colour with music and modern theatrical techniques. There are of course moments that may baffle the watcher, such as Catherine breaking into a rock ballad halfway through but nothing too bizarre. I highly recommend giving the show a go even if you don’t think it’s your usual thing, the three hours soon fly by.
Playing until 28th May, https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/wuthering-heights
Reviewer: Beth Eltringham
Reviewed: 25th May 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★