I recently met the writer, director and actress, Sam Chittenden, who kindly invited me to see her latest work, Unquiet Slumbers – The Haunting of Emily Brontë at Sweetwerks, Brighton.
As a much younger man, I tried to read Brontë, and it’s fair to say I didn’t find it to my taste. Not enough guns, Mexican Stand-Off’s and glibly dark one-liners. To be clear, my knowledge of the Brontë canon derives from a Kate Bush single, a black and white movie starring Laurence Olivier, and some oblique cultural references in stand up comedy routines.
Quite whether Sam realised she was inviting such a Brontëan Luddite to see her show, I don’t know.
The short version of this blog is that I’m very glad I made the effort to see this work.
The play tells the story of Emily Brontë, ill and alone in her house on the moor. As Emily’s life draws towards its end, Cathy comes to keep her company. Their complex relationship examines Emily’s life and the characters she created.
Unquiet Slumbers is a dark, thoughtful drama. It asks lots of questions about life, relationships, identity and tackles some powerful existential themes. A giddy comedy it is not. Both the actors are outstanding, creating a real emotional response in the viewer. The writing and direction also stand out as worthy of note, this is serious theatre, done well.
In short, I am delighted I saw this play. It made a change from a relentless diet of comedy and gave me much to think about. Now I’ve become a fan, albeit that I am not going to read Wuthering Heights, I am looking forward to seeing what Sam does next.
It is on as part of this years Brighton Fringe, and if you are a fan of intelligent, thoughtful and well-delivered drama, this should be high on your list.