Cathy comes triumphantly home

Cathy (Kirsty Thorpe) and heathcliff (Daniel Abbott) look out at Isabella (Lucy telleck)

Cathy (Kirsty Thorpe) and heathcliff (Daniel Abbott) look out at Isabella (Lucy telleck) - Credit: Archant

Wuthering Heights, Red Rose Chain Theatre in the Forest, Jimmy’s Farm, nr Ipswich, dates until August 24

Housekeeper Nellie Dean (Rachael McCormick) with little Cathy (Anna Doolan).

Housekeeper Nellie Dean (Rachael McCormick) with little Cathy (Anna Doolan). - Credit: Archant

Emily Brontë’s darkly brooding and powerful novel of revenge is set against a dramatically lit woodland backdrop on Jimmy’s Farm.

The characters rise from their graves to tell the story of Heathcliff and Cathy, parted in life to live out their years in bitter regret, destructive love and sometimes violent recrimination.

Suffolk isn’t quite the bleak Yorkshire Moors of the original book and thank goodness for that because on a very wet Friday evening the trees were a natural canopy for the audience who were also grateful for the rain ponchos (given out by Red Rose Chain) which rustled atmospherically.

Joanna Carrick, who is so adept at adapting works, wrote the piece, and brought it to the stage with verbal energy, skill and humour. The music, by composer and musical director Richard Healey, was redolent of the north, performed in counterpoint and tight harmony.

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The story, in brief, is of Heathcliff, a child found abandoned and brought back to Wuthering Heights by Cathy Earnshaw’s father. Her brother, Hindley, cannot hide his resentment of Heathcliff; Cathy cannot hide her love for this strange, wild orphaned boy.

And so the years play out a wretched story. Cathy marries Edgar because he can give her social status. Heathcliff marries Edgar’s sister, Isabella, in spite. There may be a glimmer of hope in the next generation. As the characters die, their indelible shadows remain.

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The cast is splendid. Rachael McCormick is a strong centre as the story’s narrator, housekeeper Nelly Dean. Daniel Abbott’s muscular Heathcliff is always a commanding presence and Kirsty Thorpe is a spirited Cathy. The all-in-frilly-pink Isabella, is a delightful confection from Lucy Telleck; Tristan Pate’s Hindley Earnshaw is a knot of hatred. Laurence Pears as Edgar Linton, Anna Doolan, as little Cathy and Joel Johnson as Hareton are beacons of hope in this sorry tale.

Red Rose Chain have delivered a great outdoor show with high production values and even, on this occasion, rain macs. There can be few better ways to spend an August evening in summer.


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