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Wuthering Heights at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal: A funny and enjoyable take on classic novel

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Nottingham-raised Emma Rice’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights is a thoroughly enjoyable, funny and accessible take on Emile BrontĂ«’s classic novel. The production showing at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal expresses the madness of the tale on stage, while providing comic relief, catchy songs and gripping narrative.

Lucy McCormick captures the childlike hyperactivity and excitement of Catherine, as the first half takes the audience through her relationship with her adopted brother, Heathcliff (Liam Tamne), and how, despite their romantic interest in each other, obstacles keep them apart.

Behind the stage is a large screen, often in greyscale and always showing dull colours, which added to the gothic nature of the tale. The stage is cluttered with chairs and other props, all used to show the disorderly nature of this strange love story.

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Death is a key theme in Wuthering Heights and is expressed in a minimalistic fashion by an eccentrically dressed Dr Kenneth (Craig Johnson) walking across stage with the deceased name written on a blackboard. Explainers like this helped show the more unclear aspects of the narrative often seen in works of classic literature.

At one point the narrative voice of The Moor (Nandi Bhebhe) has to address the audience to tell them some years had past, as the rest of the cast say, “you could have mentioned that”. Other moments of comedy came as the story continued, particularly Katy Owen’s depiction of Isabella Linton and Little Linton, which had the audience in hysterics.

Owen pranced around the stage as Isabella and often moped across the floor as Little Linton. Her jokes and silly voices were side-splitting and at times stole the show. Some of the actors played more than one character and the way the production used minimal personnel to create a range of voices was interesting, particularly how children were shown. This was done using puppets, propped up by a member of the cast, and helped show the different points in time effectively and abstractly.

Throughout the performance were numerous songs. Some riffs played by a band of three (Sid Goldsmith, Nadine Lee and Renell Shaw) were repeated and there were motifs sang by the Moors in between scenes.

A memorable moment was an Alanis Morissette style rock song performed by McCormick’s character of Charlotte. The entire performance was given a standing ovation and gave BrontĂ«’s only novel the credit it deserves.

Emma Rice’s Wuthering Heights is on at the Theatre Royal each day until Saturday, April 30. For information on tickets, see here.

Written by: thehitnetwork

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