National Theatre. February 23, 2022
Emma Rice’s Wuthering Heights was always going to be unlike anything else. She reinvents, that’s her gig. This is possibly one of the best things that the NT has done under Rufus Norris. It defines original.
Part rock opera, part musical, part puppetry, part ballet, part modern dance — it feels like a troupe of players have landed at the NT in a very medieval way and are sharing their skills with us. What a treat.
Heathcliff broods and we see a boy and man driven to cruelty and revenge. Catherine is a girl and woman driven to distraction by the wild passion she feels for Heathcliff yet the expectation that she must marry Edgar. Sometimes this tips over to hysteria and I struggled a bit with a lot of the screaming. And the positioning of Heathcliff is more cruel brute than I recall.
I loved the moor as a character and greek chorus . This is wonderful and Nandi Bhebhe is superb as the leader of the chorus. It’s the most powerful piece of the production as the moor dances and nurtures… or not, at will.
The comedy of the Linton siblings is well played, although the caricature of Linton Heathcliff veered too close to parody for me with echoes of Kenneth Williams. Not for me.
At 2hrs 50 its long. And the first half is very long at 100 mins… That is already longer than the whole of the last play I saw. I do prefer a shorter play.
4/5 Truly original