Wuthering Heights Review

Wuthering Heights

 

Yorkshire’s most famous story, ‘Wuthering Heights’, is realised in a bold physical theatre style with an authentic cast all from ‘God’s own country’. Bronte’s complex masterpiece – part love story, part Gothic horror, part revenge – told with passion, grit and raw power from the John Godber Theatre Company’s most recently graduated actors.

Opting for a Brechtian expression, Jane Thornton effectively and radically modernised this traditional tale to force the audience to appreciate the work in a new light. Having the set visible as the audience began to fill the theatre implied the honest and open, visceral and blatant impression of Wuthering Heights we were about to watch; warts and all. Furthermore, as well as bringing the text itself into modern theatre, the Brechtian device of having all the actors on stage watching the action intensified the relationships established by Bronte. Heathcliffe, for example, was seen reacting to the way his hateful outburst impacted upon Cathy which dramatically humanised him and created an original interpretation of pathos for the character. I think the minimalist set was perfect to reflect the reality of life for the characters and how their simple, relatable lives are only given prestige when performed on a stage, it heightened the verisimilitude of the play and the people. The overall intent behind this modernisation lies in the morals of Wuthering Heights itself; it alludes to the true desperation of grief and loss and forces its readers to question their selfishness and morality – a lesson still applicable to our lives today.

Undeniably a tale about romance and what it truly means to love someone, Thornton did a wonderful job of condensing such a powerful piece of literature while still retaining the charm and importance of the plot. It is too often that we see boring, uninspiring regurgitations of old tales merely sprinkled with a bit of symbolism and staging. Thornton artfully captured the essence of the story and, working with the abstract theatre style and transitions, it was the effortless simplicity of the plot that engaged the audience into the true emotion of the story. This performance not only respected the historic novel but earned respect in its own right as a wonderfully astounding piece of art.

An artist is only as good as their brush, however, and the passionate, young cast expressed the talent of any older, acclaimed actor. Tackling a challenging interpretation of a dauntingly famous story, the actors moved the audience and astounded me with their emotive performances. Historically a particularly drab stock character, Cathy was brought to life by Lauren Sturgess and expressed dynamically through her powerful use of voice and body language and Lamin Touray stole the audience’s hearts, never mind Cathy’s, with his frighteningly strong interpretation of Heathcliffe.

A poignant and unique piece of theatre, John Godber Theatre Company successfully reinvented this classic and the recently graduated cast have firmly left their stamp on their home-county. I wish them all the gutsy determination of Cathy herself in their endeavours!

 

Written by Siobhan Wild

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Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur Review

show_kingarthur

 

The legend of King Arthur was electrified by this captivating theatre production. The eloquent and audacious adaptation of King Arthur by Michael Morpurgo, one of the great mythic figures of English literature, was successfully told through romantic imagery, his young and grown up self, the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin the Wizard and, a quest for the Holy Grail, to name but a few exciting recollections.

The opening scene was exciting and entertaining. I was bemused and amused by the show and magical entertainment of the puppet dog. Animated and flamboyant, the wizard’s fateful and obedient dog played a major part in the production. The dog named ‘Bercelet’ was manipulated by puppeteers who brought to the performance their own expressions personalities and characteristics. The puppeteers (different members of the cast) used movements of their hands and arms to move the body, head and limbs of the dog, in some cases the mouth and eyes of the puppet. He was brilliant!

From the start to the end and, continuously throughout the play, Merlin guided the audience from the modern world to the magic of Camelot. The cast were astonishing and versatile: embarking on a range of character performances and performance skills which included singing, dancing, playing a guitar, combat fighting and jousting. The performance included plenty of riotous humour and the cast clearly relish the verbal and visual gags. The performance highlights were too large in number to recollect all in detail, however, Queen Gwenevere was played with warmth, a bewitching charm and feistiness.

This is a fantastic production and I would urge you to find out more about the enticing adventures of King Arthur.

Written By Booker –Jahvar Morris

Wuthering Heights Review

Wuthering Heights

The John Godber Company’s Wuthering Heights (adapted for the stage by Jane Thornton) was a great interpretation of Emily Bronte’s emotional and timeless story of revenge.  It was an intense and emotive experience due to committed and versatile acting.

I could hardly look away as the performance left me spellbound. I had not previously read Wuthering Heights so this was my first experience of the classic novel. I will definitely be putting my hands on a copy of this book!

Lamin Touray gave a frighteningly powerful portrayal of the tortured and at times villainous Heathcliff. Lauren Sturgess played both a wild and defiant Cathy and her well-rounded daughter Catherine.  A well-spoken Duncan Riches provided a clear class contrast between man-of-means Edgar and Heathcliff. All of the actors played their roles convincingly, some playing multiple parts. Tensions were often high between the male characters in particular and you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife during these moments.

The set was simple but effective; it was all about the storytelling. The large audience enjoyed the performance as much as I did. I noticed that some audience members were overcome with emotion and standing ovations were given. It was a fantastic effort by the five recent theatre graduates.

Written by Amelia Brookes

Wuthering Heights Review

Wuthering Heights

Amazing. Just absolutely amazing. The cast is only made up for five actors but it didn’t make the show lack anything. The narration helped those watching to follow who was who (as did the slight costume changes) as well as where they were and the context necessary to understand what was happening. The music and sound effects really added to the show and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would one hundred percent go see this again. Even if you don’t know the book well, the excellence of the adaption from book to stage makes it accessible to all whether a Bronte lover or a newcomer. Each member of the audience was enticed by what was happening on stage which just shows how brilliant it was. I could have watched it all night, I honestly didn’t want it to end but when it did there were many crying in the audience.

Written by Laura Watson

Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur Review

The production of King Arthur performed by Story Pocket Theatre was a bright and engaging example of storytelling and was based on Michael Morpurgo’s book ‘Arthur High King of Britain’. The play was adapted by Adam Fletcher-Forde.

The play took the format of an assortment of tales that span the life and the legend of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and the Knights of the Round Table. It was exciting physical theatre – Story Pocket actors fought throughout with swords and poles. I later found out that the actors had learned these skills in a very short space of time. There was also a certain romanticism and emotion about the production as beautiful music and singing complemented the clashing of swords, transporting me back in time to Camelot!

Each actor played multiple parts, which was impressive. Character changes could have been confusing due to the costumes being the same or similar for each part. However, the actors overcame this by using different voices and distinct personalities for each character. I particularly loved Nigel Munson’s evil depiction of Mordred. The puppet dog ‘Bercelet’ that was hand operated and used throughout was amusing and raised many smiles.

Simplistic and functional, the backdrop and props took nothing away from the impact of the performance but I do think however that the back screen could have been utilised to project images appropriate to the performance. It may have added a little extra atmosphere.

My family and I met some of the actors after the performance and they were absolutely charming! They signed autographs and gave us more information about the production. It topped off a great evening for us. Thanks Story Pocket, you brought a magical legend to life!

Written by Amelia Brookes

Mad About The Musicals Review

Mad About The Musicals was a lovely evening for all involved. The very talented four singers sung classics from various musicals including Wicked, Evita, Les Misérables and many more.

Britain’s Got Talent winner, Jai McDowall, had a beautiful voice and certainly appeared to warm the hearts of the 500 grannies sitting in that audience (along with me and my friend)!

It was a night full of beautiful renditions that had everyone (mainly the tiddly grannies in front of us) singing along and included funny audience interaction- largely from the other principal male singer, Michael Courtney. All in all providing a full experience for everyone to enjoy.

Written by Ella Wilson

Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur Review

If you are looking for something to watch this half term then look no further than King Arthur and many other shows you can find at Theatre Royal Wakefield. The small cast allows for full use of the stage which creates great fun during the fight scenes. Although at times it is hard to follow who is who due to each cast member taking on various roles throughout the show. As a child I was really interested in the legend of King Arthur and was pleased with this rendition. The use of lighting and minimal sets worked really well to enable focusing solely on the stories that are being told. Such tales as Sir Gwaine and The Green Knight entertained all in the theatre, even to the point that some younger members of the audience were vocal about their feelings. Any show that manages to evoke emotions in the audience so strong they cannot help but express them is a show worth seeing.

Written by Laura Watson