Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Heathcliff no longer lives at 10 Downing Street

The Basingstoke Gazette reviews Shared Experience's Brontë at the Watermill Theatre.

THIS fascinating play about the life and trials of the Brontë sisters is as much an historical snapshot as it is a compelling dramatic story. [...]
Filled with premature death, poverty and hardships – and echoes of the social unrest and squalor of the time – Brontë is not a cheerful night out. However, it is still compelling.
The play explores issues like women’s limited opportunities, the merits and frustrations of education for people in their position and the impact of isolation and inexperience on their work.
This interpretation juxtaposes Emily – a fiercely private author who writes for herself – and Charlotte, who desperately seeks recognition and adulation, and their rocky relationship is at the heart of this play, which posits a theory that Charlotte even burned Emily’s second manuscript.
The characters of Mrs Rochester, Cathy and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights are woven into the narrative to great effect and Frances McNamee’s portrayal of the two fictional women is mesmerising.
The cast of six is very strong. Elizabeth Crarer, as Emily, has a tremendous talent and stage presence and Mark Edel-Hunt, as Branwell and Heathcliff, demonstrates great versatility and injects a few brief moments of humour.
Kristin Atherton, playing Charlotte, has the most challenging role. She is almost always on stage and must win the audience’s sympathy despite being a straight-laced Jane Eyre next to Emily’s passionate Cathy. She does well, but occasionally comes across a little forced.
Visually this production is stunning. From three black walls, lighting designer Tim Lutkin creates the Brontë's bare kitchen, Mrs Rochester’s attic prison and a range of other spaces and moods.
One reservation is that for quite a long play – two halves of 75 minutes – it is quite heavy. [...]
But this is a high quality, thought-provoking evening of theatre and a must for anyone who has ever been enraptured by a Brontë novel. (Lucie Richards)
Theatermania is reminded of Heathcliff in a review of another play, Lascivious Something (at the Julia Miles Theater in New York):
On the plus side, the play does benefit from Campbell's Heathcliff-like performance as August, although somehow the man's plight is not well-enough realized. (David Finkle)
The Wuthering Heights theme behind the political discussions of the recent general election in the UK has really caught on.

The Telegraph throws in some Jane Eyre as well:
Our party leaders, too, could seek out literature’s lessons. A quick re-reading of Jane Eyre might get the Milibands thinking again about taking over a decrepit pile, about to go up in flames, while Bertha Brown rants and curses overhead. Might Nick Clegg have been moved to a speedier decision by perusing Wuthering Heights, where Cathy Earnshaw has to choose between a despotic hothead and a polished posh boy? (Rowan Pelling)
The Caledonian Mercury:
The grand schemer [Gordon Brown] – for so long the rantin’, ravin’, roarin’ Heathcliff to Blair’s Cathy – showed a soft side. (James Browne)
National Public Radio:
He's being described as a Jane Austen heroine being wooed by two suitors, "Wuthering Heights" has come up, and he's - is he going to go for the Heathcliff, who is Gordon Brown, or is he going to go for the more boring but solid Edgar Linton? (Rob Gifford)
What's not so clear about this last mention is whether Jane Austen is supposed to have written Wuthering Heights. It looks like it, which must have Jane Austen and Emily Brontë both turning in their graves.

And now for that old, though always unexpected, topic: the Brontës in the world of fashion. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer,
[Jill] Garvey showed her range, winning Best of Show for her head-turning Wuthering Heights-inspired full-length fitted white gown. (Elizabeth Wellington)
The dress can be seen as picture number 6 in this slideshow. We are sorry to say that, left to our own devices, we would never ever have thought of Wuthering Heights seeing it.

The Telegraph and Argus reports that Haworth's Fleece Inn 'has been awarded four stars for its accommodation by Visit England'.
The Timothy Taylor-owned pub, which has seven letting rooms, was once popular with Branwell Brontë, brother of the famous Brontë sisters. (Kath Gower)
That's probably true, but not saying much really, as any pub would have been popular with poor Branwell, we are afraid.

The Banbridge Leader also suggests a Brontë-related trip in Ireland:
"Within the greater Banbridge area I find that now more and more people are using the walks along the Scarva canal and towpath," [Ken McElroy] said."Other attractions like the FE McWilliam Gallery, Scarva Visitor's Centre and the Brontë Homeland are very impressive too." (Aine Fox)
It's Wuthering Heights Wednesday over at: Views from the Page and the Oven, Lakeside Musing, Serendipity, Book Chatter, New Century Reading, She Is Too Fond of Books, Fizzy Thoughts, etc. Hope is the thing with feathers also posts about Wuthering Heights (albeit a movie version, possibly the 2009 one). And Tea and a Good Book is getting ready for a very Brontë-esque summer.

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