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Wuthering Heights - Theatre Royal Nottingham Review

Emma Rice's Wise Children continue their rich tapestry of work with a stunning re-telling of Emily Brontë's classic novel Wuthering Heights.

This imaginative telling breaks down some barriers, there are no traditional wings - instead, you see the whole action unfold with stage managers ready to throw the next prop or move scenery. I initially thought this may seem distracting but it made the whole piece feel open and even more engaging.

The cast of Wuthering Heights. Photo by Steve Tanner

It's undeniable that Wuthering Heights is as gloomy as the weather that blows across the Yorkshire Moors but it's an engaging interesting piece that Rice and company bring to life with real electricity. It can be a bit confusing at times, especially if you come in with no knowledge of the story - the relationships and connections did need a little interval refresh of looking at the family tree. 

The story centres around Liam Tamne's commanding Heathcliff and the manor house Wuthering Heights. It begins with his childhood arrival at Heights after being discovered at Liverpool Docks. At this stage Heathcliff, Cathy and Hindley are exquisite puppets designed by John Leader. Heathcliff begins as a sympathetic character with deplorable taunts of "go back where you come from". It's this trauma that roots the character's journey that Tamne carries with real skill and power. As Heathcliff grows angrier and more controlling, he becomes a monstrous figure beating and emotionally abusing those around him. 

Lucy McCormick's Cathy is outstanding from the get-go. Her wide-eyed maddening energy is fascinating to watch and she powers through with boundless talent. The way McCormick carries Cathy is stunning to watch. She's like a rockstar but with a vulnerability and heart that is vital in driving the story forwards.

The cast of Wuthering Heights. Photo by Steve Tanner

TJ Holmes impresses as Lockwood and as Edgar Linton. Archer balances some good physical work whilst carrying tragedy and emotion. Katy Owen's physical comedy delights as Isabella Linton, the whole time she's dancing around like an over energised fairy, but the switch to Little Linton in the second half feels initially feels very puppet-like but this is where Owen tears into your emotions. Tama Phethean physically tough Hareton Earnshaw balanced with his Hindley Earnshaw who is reborn by his love for Stephanie Hockley's beautifully pitched Catherine Linton which leads to a warm romantic ending. 

Making The Moor an on-stage character led by Nandi Bhebhe's tree-like wind-powered leader is a stroke of genius. You maybe lose a little of the vastness of the space, except in the early moments but it's more connecting having a human representation of the space. This teamed with Ian Ross's folk-rock infused soundtrack injects a mysterious feeling into the whole production. The on-stage musicians led by musical director Nadine Lee are tremendous.

It's a fairly bleak environment in terms of the staging, with Vicki Mortimer's set and costume design creating that right feel to the stage which is enhanced perfectly by Simon Baker's video design that projects the cloudy environment onto the backdrop. 

Sure, Wuthering Heights is a bit bleak and a little lengthy at 3 hour run time but it's hugely enjoyable and with Rice at the helm and a stunning company of actors and musicians you're transported with a gripping piece of drama. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wuthering Heights continues at Theatre Royal in Nottingham until Saturday 30th April. Tickets are available from The tour continues thereafter,  visit for more information.

Lucy McCormick (Cathy) and Liam Tamne (Heathcliff). Photo by Steve Tanner

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