Withering Looks (tour – Radlett Centre)
If you’ve never seen Withering Looks before, it has a framework device, that of the National Institute for Bringing to History to Life. Complete with their stall of authorised (and only vaguely appropriate) mementos, two eager re-enactors play out a variation on the lives of Charlotte and Emily. We meet Anne only as a puppet in the window, but that’s because she’s just slipped out for a cup of sugar.
Part of the joke is that dumpy Charlotte is played by the tall Maggie Fox and the more willowy Emily by the shorter Sue Ryding. Ryding also plays the old nurse cum mid-of-all-work Nellie as well as Mr Moorcroft in a slightly bizarre run-through of Jane Eyre. The “I so like being a ghost” number works well, as do the two versions of Wuthering Heights, first as a penny-plain toy theatre show and then as a delicious spoof of the Laurence Olivier-[Merle Oberon film with all its stilted dialogue, pared-down plot, fake scenery and lushly romantic score.