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Wuthering Heights

Date

17th November 2017

Society

Stevenage Lytton Players

Venue

The Lytton Theatre

Type of Production

Play

Director

Michelle Airey

Report

Author: Vicki Avery

Young director, Michelle Airey, is never afraid of setting herself a challenge and this production of Wuthering Heights was no exception. Within the confines of the Lytton stage we managed to be transported from the Earnshaw residence to the Linton residence and then out on to the moor.

The staging was well thought out, making composite use of blackouts for even the shortest of scenes. Under normal circumstances one might have questioned if so many blackouts were absolutely necessary but this is not a normal story and dovetailing one scene into the next with very few blackouts would simply have made things very confusing for the audience.

Richard Absalom played a surly, angry Heathcliff, with flashes of his softer underside in the more relaxed moments with Cathy. He played the role with passion and not once did I feel he went over the top with the voice projection. Good breath control was essential here and Richard showed just what a good actor he has developed into.

As Cathy, Grace Maynard was superb. Her voice was faultless and her acting praiseworthy. She was a delight in the role, bringing a joy and innocence to the character but also conveying the utter wretchedness she felt when Heathcliff eventually returned, and she realised that there was no turning back on the choice she had made. Her lines after Heathcliff leaves were packed with emotion.


Playing her brother Hindley, Alex Hancock gave an excellent performance as yet another aggressive male with few social skills to commend him. Despite his arrogance and rudeness it was easy to understand his jealousy of the upstart gypsy boy who was taken under his father’s wing and given a place in the Earnshaw home.
 

The loyal and caring servant Nelly was sympathetically played by Alice Atkins, her vocals was clear and there were very few lapses from her Northern accent. Well done.


Isabella, who secretly longed for Heathcliff, was played with style by Cat Nicholls. At times it was a little difficult to pick up facial expression as you kept your head down in a subservient manner but never the less a good attempt at a very complex character who’s emotions swung minute by minute.

Tom Beirne took command of the role of Edgar Linton with fire and energy. There was a clear definition between what his head told him was the right thing to do and what his heart told him. There were some touching scenes between himself and his daughter and it was comforting to sense warmth that is not often portrayed in this character. I’m so glad you found it.


Ashley Smith played a petulant young Hereton, setting the scene for the man he would grow into, and the characterisation of both young Linton and young Cathy were handled well by Aaron Govey and Kizzie Hopkinson. All three of them did very well in their roles.

Fight sequences (and there were plenty of them) were well choreographed and space was used to the maximum.

Costumes were appropriate and make up was fine. Cathy’s changed noticeably from healthy young woman to a pale and sickly one toward the end.

My only questionable point is the hairstyles for the women. Isabella in particular should have looked perfect at the beginning with not a hair out of place but the front curls just did not hold and she looked ill kept from the outset. The hair tied back in a high bun with false curls at the sides would have given a better effect. As a servant, Nelly would never have been seen without her head covered. A cheesecloth cap would have covered the hair and then powered grey in the latter part of the story. Minor points I know but worth mentioning for the future.

Sound, sound effects and lighting were very good and added to the overall presentation of the musical. The rural feel worked very well indeed and the wind was just strong enough.

Thank you for inviting me to see the play and for your kind hospitality on the evening.