The stage at Uppingham Theatre was transformed into the wild and windswept Yorkshire moors for this year’s main school production of Wuthering Heights.
Clare Rayner, Director of Drama, skilfully brought to life April de Angelis’s adaptation of Emily Bronte’s classic novel. The young cast performed the passionate and spellbinding tale of forbidden love and revenge with a maturity and conviction beyond their years.
The central characters carried the audience with them from the moment they took the stage. Angus Cooper perfectly captured the complexities of the brooding lead – Heathcliff - love, hurt, bitterness and brutality were all forcefully portrayed. Alice James was more than a match for him as his love Cathy, revelling in the characterisation of this deeply contrary and impetuous young woman.
Like the book this production told the tale through two main narrators - Nelly (Kitty Parker) and Mr Lockwood (William Playle-de Vries). Kitty gave a flawless and natural performance, demonstrating an impressive ease on the stage and formed a strong partnership with William, whose versatility brought lightness and shade to a play that can be unrelentingly dark.
To focus on just these four would do the supporting cast an injustice – the sorrow and heartache that the Linton family experienced (Oscar Frick and Pollyanna Esse) was plain for all to see. Pollyanna’s despair at the hands of Heathcliff was compelling.
The stylistic set, combined with the sound and visual effects, powerfully evoked the cold, bleakness of the moors. The accomplished production team transported the audience through the seasons and emotions and the lowering presence of the ‘hanging tree’ perfectly symbolised this harrowing tale.
It was an emotional rollercoaster of a production; the audience were certainly taken to new heights.