Weeks of wild weather mean you might not need much imagination to picture the fierce beauty of the exposed Yorkshire moors, the setting for Emily Brontë’s classic novel.
But this adaptation of Wuthering Heights takes its bold and confident styling in a different direction, with director and joint designer Sabrina Poole’s production mixing video, audio, and clever use of the Maddermarket’s galleries and windows to bring the internal storms of its characters to life.
Jo Clifford’s text strips away the later chapters of the book and rejigs some of the timeline to focus on the frustrated passions that rage between Cathy, the gentleman’s daughter, and Heathcliff, the vagabond boy rescued by her father.
Christina Clarke is confident and convincing as Cathy, with subtle artefacts of her growing attachment to Jose Taourca’s Heathcliff. His accent wobbles a little but otherwise he is fittingly broody and quick to passion – whether romance or repugnance.
Brother and nemesis Hindley is played with admirable physicality by Miles Lukoszevieze; the use of shadow play to suggest his brutality is particularly effective.
The re-worked story places housekeeper Nelly as de facto narrator, and Michelle Campbell-Jones provides a strong and reliable thread throughout what can be a rather episodic script. She handles the dry comedy of her character particularly well, and her presence is felt just as strongly as that of the two leads.
Keila Isaacson-Gray and Kevin Oelrichs also bring some deftly contrasting lightness to the piece, with Jake Harrison and Ashden Woodrow supporting well as the brother and sister pair who become the collateral damage of Cathy and Heathcliff’s emotions.
The limitations of the script mean that sometimes we feel more in the eye of the storm – that quiet centre – than in its very midst, but it does build to a satisfyingly tempestuous, and passionate, conclusion.
Wuthering Heights continues at Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich until Saturday, February 29.