I confess that, much like Rachel Green in Friends, I never read Wuthering Heights. So I came to this production a completely blank slate. Not surprisingly then, I was absolutely gripped by the story itself. But what Emma Brice has done with this classic is, quite frankly, astonishing. The show is a triumph of creativity, with every device and idea executed to wonderful effect.
Let’s start with the musical backdrop. I’d happily have paid the ticket price just to listen to this folk quartet perform. And I say, folk quartet… one minute they’re a traditional sounding folk group, the next they’re a full throttle rock band, and the next thing they’re sneaking into the cast fitting in quite comfortably with what is an extraordinarily talented group of actors.
Lucy McCormick undoubtedly steals the show as Cathy. And she’s clearly having the time of her life. Which is utterly infectious. To witness her given free licence to pull out all the stops in delivering hysteria, pain, humour and, well, basically the full works, is a delight.
Elsewhere, there are powerful performances across the board, with Liam Tamne taking us through Heathcliff’s own journey from humble beginnings to wealth and tyranny, and Katy Owen drawing on seemingly superhuman energy reserves in order to have the audience at times in utter hysterics.
And laughter is one of the key themes here. The inventiveness with which humour has been injected into the story is impressive; from cleverly nuanced delivery of Brontë’s dialogue, to 21st century-isms and comic gestures. When it’s funny, it’s flat-out hilarious.
Occasional puppetry in the show is in equal parts, charming, effective and minimalistic: I’m not sure I’d have expected to have been convinced of a book on the end of a stick as a bird in flight, but somehow, in the overall context of this visual tapestry, I bought it.
Of course the most notable USP of this interpretation of Wuthering Heights has to be the personification of the Moors itself. And Nandi Bhebhe just owns the crap out of it. When contemplating the sheer size of a character, I guess the Yorkshire Moors is about as big as you get. The energy and life with which she executes it is tremendous – as it absolutely needs to be.
What needs to be said of Etta Murfitt’s choreography is that rarely is there even a sense of “I’m watching people dance here”. Rather, it’s so cleverly interwoven with the overall staging that it’s simply how we’re being transported from one time and place to the next, and at other times an invisible means of special effects.
I genuinely feel a little spoilt by the sheer volume of trickery and treats rolled up in this marvellous imagining of Wuthering Heights. It’s a must-see theatre experience. And I’d go so far as to say (just about) even worth inevitably finding yourself with Kate Bush stuck in your head for a week or so either side of the show.
Congratulations cast and creative 4 stars from us.
The production is a must see and is at the Lowry Theatre from now till Saturday 7th May 2022 book now at – https://thelowry.com/whats-on/wuthering-heights-2/
Review by Richard Whitehead