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Wuthering Heights (Wherstead)

Emily Brontë's one published novel is as bleak and wild as the Yorkshire moors which drew her to their untamed changeability.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Joanna Carrick's adaptation has designs by Jimmy Grimes which plant us firmly in a churchyard, perhaps even the one which bordered Haworth parsonage. Clad in permutations of pinks and purples, the eight actors are white-faced and skull-eyed, their shoulders increasingly powdered wtih grave dust.

Anna Doolan & Rachael McCormick
© BILL JACKSON 2012

As Catherine Earnshaw, Kirsty Thorpe gives a fine performance which lays bare the character's dual yearnings – for the dangerous excitement which is Heathcliff (Daniel Abbott)'s aura and the genteel civilisation offered, on the surface, at any rate, by Isabella (Lucy Telleck) and Edgar (Laurence Pears) Linton.

There's a demonstrable mixture of both in Anna Doolan's kittenish Little Cathy, teasing Joel Johnson's Hareton unmercifully until she matures into the young woman prepared to stand up to Heathcliff. Abbott pitches the perpetual outsider perfectly; you believe that his obsession with Catherine can indeed challenge death.

Musical director Richard Healey and his choreographer between them give us two folk-style round dances – "Penistone Crag" and "A Golden Afternoon in August" as well as some effective a cappella singing to some remarkably catchy tunes. Housekeeper Nelly Dean, all common sense amid the emotional turmoil, is Rachael McCormick.

There's no attempt to hide the violence in all the characters' relationships, with Tristan Pate's drink-sodden Hindley at its forefront. The first act flows more evenly than the second one, but that's unavoidable as the intermingled stories unfold and their participants hurtle towards – what?

Brontë, like any other master story-teller, leaves resolution up to us.

Wuthering Heights runs in repertoire at the Theatre in the Forest, Wherstead until 24 August.

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