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NODA Review - Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte adapted by Lucy Gough

The novel ‘Wuthering Heights’ was originally written by Emily Bronte, this adaptation was by Lucy Gough. Set at the turn of the 19th Century and based on the Yorkshire Moors, this hard hitting story follows the life of Heathcliff, a gypsy boy who was adopted and rises in status within a family until his father figure dies. He is then reduced to being a servant and he runs away when he finds out that the young woman he loves had decided to marry another. He returns later in life, rich and educated, and sets about gaining his revenge on the two families that he believed ruined his life. The story is based on love and how Healthcliff is heartbroken. The underlying theme of revenge dominates and sets the mood for most of the play.


Todmorden Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society’s interpretation of this famous story was interesting and well thought out. The show began with the stage already set, which was weather beaten stonework and two differing windows which were those of the Wuthering Heights farm house and also Thurncroft Grange. From entry into the theatre this looked very well constructed and designed, this created an instant interest into what was going to later unfold on the stage. The initial scene then gave us an insight into a later section of the play, it then jumped back to show us where the events started to unfold at. This scene started with high emotions and was extremely fast paced. This continued throughout the show making it slightly difficult to follow the narrative, the audience had no time to process what had happened before the next section began.


The show made use of a projected backdrop, this enabled us to see differing locations between the two houses and also when the passage of time happened. A clock face was shown with a ticking sound effect. This clock face and ticking helped the narrative to be followed. The use of recorded videos during the piece showed the characters themselves out on the moors and moving between the two buildings, this was vital for the story to be understood. The buildings used within these videos were well suited, although there were some inaccuracies with the era of certain aspects. These projections were of a good quality and did provide a full backdrop to the stage. There was only one minor hiccup when a video was played a scene too early. This however did not disrupt the flow of the play as the cast carried on in the correct place without any hesitation.


The production was well cast, with people who suited the roles they fulfilled. Their acting was very good and contained immense light and shade in every scene. There were many fighting scenes within the play, they all appeared well rehearsed and the aggression could be felt when sitting and watching. Certain cast members who played dual roles or aged as the play progressed, did an excellent job of changing their characterisations to show such a change in the person they were playing. Body language and mannerisms had obviously been thought about and enhanced the production helping the audience to see how things were changing through the play. Emotions run high throughout the whole show and the cast must have felt drained after every performance, due to the physical and emotional demands of a play with such am intense plot. Tremendous effort must have also been put into the numerous scene changes that happened. The cast and crew did an amazing job of remembering all of this. It appeared very well rehearsed, as there were countless entries and exits from the different doorways. In addition to knowing if they were on the inside or outside of the properties. Going back to the set itself and how cleaver the design was as it was able to show the inside and the outside of two different properties. One memorable section was a scene where split the stage in two and a cast member was being pulled back into the house which was done from either side of the stage, this was very effective.  


The costumes were also good and suitable for the time that the show is set and they fitted well.  The lighting design was splendid and helped to emphasise the emotions all the way through the production. Due to the countless scene changes the programming of this must have been a daunting task but it was executed superbly and never was anything done out of time.


The production team should also be proud of their interpretation of the script, to create a piece of theatre with such emotion embedded within it. This play was no easy task to try and stage due to its very nature, being a hard hitting drama. Big movements in time happened very often and the large amount of short quick scenes would have required careful consideration. The production team did justice to the piece and created a fascinating show to watch.


Overall the society produced a truly emotional piece of drama that could be appreciated on many levels. From the set and staging, to the acting and characterisations, all of these aspects were well suited to each other and the audience had a memorable piece of theatre to watch. This show truly did depict why live theatre is well loved by so many people, as the portrayed emotions cannot be felt the same by watching a screen.  We would like to thank the society for their invitation to this show and their kind hospitality. We wish them well for their next production.