Essential Review

This review has been conducted by a member of the Essential Suffolk team

Wuthering Heights

Red Rose Chain, Theatre in the Forest at Jimmy’s Farm until 24th August

Adapted from the novel by Emily Brontë

Reviewer: Lesley Rawlinson


About ten years ago I ‘made’ myself read Wuthering Heights and all I could think tonight, as an audience member watching Joanna Carrick’s clever adaptation, was that I wished I could have seen this version before tackling the novel. To my mind she’s unravelled some of the complications of the story by streamlining the action with a single set.

The tale is told by the ghosts of the characters, from the bounds of their graveyard, re-treading their fateful steps and helplessly watching as their mistakes unfold once again before them. Cathy’s life is turned upside down by the premature death of her father, not long after he’s introduced a foundling (Heathcliff) to the family, a rival in her brother’s (Hindley) eyes for his father’s love. Left to take charge of the family Hindley reduces Heathcliff’s life to one of a servant while Cathy’s affections for him grow. But fate takes its course and when a wealthy neighbour courts her, a web starts to be woven that can never be unravelled.    

All eight of the players, four ladies and four gents, command the stage with equal aplomb. Easing into the action and melting back into the ether from where their spirits have been teased as though the forest surrounding them were their vast tomb. They sing, they fight, they laugh and go mad, tell tales and climb trees as we’re led through their lives, loves and losses until their ultimate demise. Of course in the open air the greatest gift is the ever changing natural light and here the daylight over the graveyard faded to eventual darkness matching the progress of the story perfectly.

And yes it rained, but it didn’t matter. On a balmy August evening - with more than eighty percent of the audience sheltered by the canopy of trees and with free wet weather ponchos liberally gifted on the gate, the atmosphere was practically tropical! This is a summer night of superb live entertainment for all the family.


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