Saturday, 25 May 2013

~IB~ Baby Fairfield Halls. Review: Wuthering Heights


Picture from the Croydon Guardian
 
Fairfield Halls is known for presenting a wide range of theatre productions and following hot on the heels of Dracula we have Emily Bronte’s classic novel, ‘Wuthering Heights.’ Quite a challenge for Jane Thornton, adapting a story set on windswept moors and making it work on stage with only 5 actors- a minimalist production created from an epically popular story!

Director Andrew Lynford certainly presented the actors with a real test of their abilities, with most actors playing multiple characters- now I understand why they were listed as Actor 1, Actor 2 etc!!  The stars were Adele Silva and Mark Homer (Emmerdale and East Enders respectively,) with James Clifford, Jeremy Randall and Alison Egan completing the cast.

The story itself is centred on Kathy and Heathcliff, two highly egotistical (narcissistic) people who have no consideration whatsoever for anyone else, being consumed with satisfying their own, often vengeful needs. The plot has complex beginnings leading to the point where Kathy married Edgar Linton whilst still in love with Heathcliff- who ran off and married Edgar’s sister, Isabella, whom he despised.  After further goings on, Kathy’s regrets entered the ‘woe is me,’ phase to the extent that she tried to starve her love-lorn self to death whilst pregnant.  Heathcliff’s despicable attitude prevailed throughout and after Kathy died he begged her to haunt him, which she did until he died at the end of the play when the two finally joined as soul mates. The aggressive scenes were shown in slow motion with flashing lights, a good touch.

The story is new to me and I think overall the portrayals were very good- the actors must have been emotionally drained after such a dramatic performance.  I found the story interesting however slightly confusing as multiple characters were basically in the same outfits throughout, sporting mildly different accessories. I think this made it hard for some of the actors to switch roles as the distinctions were almost undefined.  For this reason I followed the first half easily and became mildly lost at times later on. One thing they really achieved well was to create an emotional response; I found myself feeling angry with the ‘spoilt brat,’ childish behaviour and the desire for revenge which seemed out of all proportion, although that was the point of the story.

Overall it was a job well done but clearly would have benefitted from an additional actor or two.
 
Jaz McKenzie
If you would like an ~IB~ review contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk

 

2 comments:

  1. Interesting comments on the characters' motivations.

    It's worth noting that this particular adaptation (by Jane Thornton) specifies 5 actors and minimal costume changes.
    In pieces structured this way the cast and director share the responsibility of defining different characters played by the same actor, not the costume.
    (I think jeremy Randall achieved this well in this production.)

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    1. Thanks for the info Vera. I think that not knowing the story may be disadvantage for this particular adaptation! Jaz

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