Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Emily Bronte’s classic tale of unrequited love and the possibility of being together in an after life is told in a studio production that just sizzles. This young cast take on the tale of how the outsider Heathcliff takes on the polite society of the bleak and desolate Wuthering Heights until he becomes as bitter a master as the one he usurped. A faithful adaptation we get the weeping and the wailing delivered with the strength of Bronte’s words.
It must be a struggle sometimes in the early part of the new year as companies coming to Edinburgh sit and think about what they should do. Original theatre or something that is recognisable. This is one young company who should revisit that thinking and repeat it. I prefer original theatre in the main but this production had me revisiting that perception as they managed to hit the heights with this portrayal.
The adaptation remains true and faithful to the story, however what we do get is a youthful exuberance which gives new life to the story. As a member of the generation that cannot get THAT song out of my head when I think of the story, I was glad to see a performance high on the storyline whilst giving us a thoughtful and creative package in the direction and set.
It was performed in a small space in a hotel – the first where the air conditioning worked and did not rattle like a condemned smoker – and the intimate nature of the venue added to the piece. I was completely swept up by the performers. The acting was generally of a fairly high standard but there were times it not only touched upon melodrama but tipped right over into it. Our narrator was a charming young man who guided us through the alteration to Heathcliff and the transformation seemed to happen without explanation. I got he was moody but Heathcliff needed a touch more vulnerability at times. The range of acting delivered by the actor was full and extensive, the script did not allow him though the opportunity of giving us insight. It is a minor criticism and one I offer because the robust nature of the performances and the entire show were so good.
The set was terrific and gave us completely the sense of where we were upon the Heath. The direction very well considered and the death of Cathy was a particular high point for me. This was where melodrama was eschewed and we had delivered a simple and highly effective tragedy.
Overall if you want to see an adaptation of a well known story you could do a heck of a lot worse than this. in fact it sits as an example of how young theatre can illuminate the classics.