The world première production of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, adapted and directed by Emma Rice, tours to The Lowry this May. Co-produced by the National Theatre, this charming, humorous and intelligent production takes Brontë’s literary masterpiece and transforms it into a bold and ingenious theatrical experience.
An epic story of love, revenge and redemption in remotest Yorkshire. When he is rescued from the Liverpool Docks as a child, Heathcliff is adopted by the Earnshaws and taken to live at Wuthering Heights. Here, he finds a kindred spirit in Catherine Earnshaw and an intense love ignites between the two. However, when they are forced apart, a brutal chain of events follows…
This blistering production is shot through with music, dance, passion and hope. Bringing new themes to the fore, Emma Rice’s inventive adaptation features a live band and sudden bursts of song. In one striking move, Rice has replaced the housekeeper/narrator figure of Nelly Dean with an all-singing and dancing group of performers. Providing commentary for the audience, in this production the wild and windy Yorkshire Moors are human and take the shape of a Greek chorus. This is an intoxicating revenge tragedy for our time.
As a young woman attending sixth form, Emma Rice fell for Wuthering Heights; the tale of drama and intrigue – set high on the Yorkshire Moors – left a lasting impression on her. But it wasn’t until 2016 that she revisited the text again. Horrified by the scenes from the refugee camps in Calais and conversations around the number of unaccompanied children the UK might be prepared to offer a home to, Rice returned to her bookcase a dusted off her old copy of Wuthering Heights.
Of the story, Rice says, “I was really moved and angry about what was happening in the Calais Jungle at the time and watching politicians argue about how many children we would give safe passage to, and that was when I had the revelation that Heathcliffe was an unaccompanied refugee child. He was found at the Liverpool Docks. He was speaking a different language. Nobody knew where he came from.”
Fierce, wild and passionate, Lucy McCormick leads the cast of musicians and performers as Cathy – a knotty haired Doc Martens-wearing rebel; Sam Archer takes on the roles of Lockwood and Edgar Linton; Katy Owen as Isabella Linton and Linton Heathcliffe, while Tama Phethean plays Hindley Earnshaw and Hareton Earnshaw and Witney White takes on the roles of Frances Earnshaw and Young Cathy; Lucy Nandi Bhebhe leads a terrifically talented ensemble as The Moor. Mirabelle Gremaud, TJ Holmes, Liam Tamne and Craig Johnson complete the line-up alongside musicians Sid Goldsmith, nadine Lee and Renell Shaw.
Boasting a super talented team of creatives – Ian Ross’ genre-spanning composition moves fluidly from pounding punk to an angelic chorus. While Vicki Mortimer’s design, alongside sound and video by Simon Baker, take this glorious production from page to stage.
This could quite be Rice’s best production since creating her theatre company, Wise Children – don’t miss out when it visits Salford.