Monday, February 17, 2020

Monday, February 17, 2020 10:22 am by Cristina in , ,    No comments
The Reviews Hub has a review of Wuthering Heights at the Royal Exchange, Manchester. The production is given 4 out of 5 stars and summed up as 'bloody breathtaking'.
The novel is a Russian doll of a narrative, with multiple flashbacks and notoriously unreliable narrators designed to distort the reader’s perspective. On the stage, the story can be acted out, without the need for a specific storyteller to filter and interpret the action. But to keep faith with the original work, there should remain elements which are inexplicable, unimaginable, other-worldly. Bryony Shanahan and Andrew Sheridan pull this off superbly.
It is noticeable that Sheridan is not merely credited with adapting the novel, but delivering “a new version”. This is entirely fair. For while the original characters and storyline are respected, Sheridan’s script distills and elevates the emotional core of the book, shedding some of the peripheral detail: essential in reducing a lengthy Victorian tome into a manageable evening’s theatre. The complex spiritual and emotional co-dependency between Cathy and Heathcliff is the black hole at the centre of the play’s universe. It sucks in everything else around it, subverting what might otherwise be “normal”. [...]
The principal characters of the novel, Heathcliff and Cathy, are so well ingrained in national culture as to be a shorthand for wild, abandoned passion. Very helpful in comedy skits; less useful here. This production is blessed with Alex Austin as Heathcliff and Rakhee Sharma as Cathy, who take their respective characters through considerable development during the course of the play. Alex’s transformation from brutish low-life to menacing avenger is perhaps the more sensational metamorphosis, but Rakhee’s retention of Cathy’s essential earthiness, beneath the veneer of conformity, is at the heart of the play. There were no weaknesses elsewhere in the cast, but Samantha Power deserves special mention for bringing Nelly so fully alive. Yorkshire accents predominate, but the language has been largely updated, particularly the swearing.
The mood of such a piece of theatre is often set by the lighting and other effects. There are some striking uses of lights suspended at various heights above the stage to create a particular atmosphere (much like the candle holders hoisted and lowered in Jacobean theatres or at the Globe’s Sam Wannamaker). Mist, rain, and the call of wild birds evoke the harsh moorland.
The stroke of genius which takes this production onto a different plane is the use of live music from Sophie Galpin and Becky Wilkie. This starts as an occasional undercurrent to the drama, a folksy evocation to accompany Heathcliff and Cathy on their high fells trysts. By the time the protagonists are pledging their souls in an unconditional death-defying pact, the thrashing guitar and searing vocals are ramping up to a heart-stopping crescendo. This play calls for emotional overload, and the musicians generate it.
The production may have weaknesses, but it also has surpassing strengths, not least its power to engage at an emotional level, and bring a hackneyed story to fresh life in 2020. (Jim Gillespie)
The Play's the Thing posts about it too.

Big Issue North discusses fictional houses.
“The fascination about houses in books could be because we are compensating for what has become almost a prostitution of property, where the home is seen purely as a material asset,” says writer Christina Hardyment, who discusses 20 emblematic houses, from Manderley and Wuthering Heights to Bleak House and Mansfield Park in her new book Novel Houses.
But houses’ influence extends beyond the page.
A sense of being on the threshold of momentous events is exploited in the 1992 production of JB Priestley’s classic play An Inspector Calls – still touring today with the same inventive set. Where novelists can evoke the atmosphere of a house with powerful description, a director has to rely on scant stage instructions. But imaginative design can continually reinvent the set and refresh the messages of the play.
The action takes place in the dining room of a well-to-do family, but one that is hiding secrets, protected by their wealth and grand house. A young woman has committed suicide and they are all implicated. But the 1992 production, directed by Stephen Daldry and designed by Ian MacNeil, inverts this so that the audience sees not an interior but the whole house, lit from within and also by a streetlamp, which becomes a kind of spotlight on each family member in turn.
“We used film iconography, with elements of gothic dramas like Rebecca and Jane Eyre but also of noir and horror, so we could show the inspector approaching the door, lit by a porch light that’s somehow both welcoming and repellent,” says MacNeil. (Deborah Mulhearn)
On TES, a columnist with dyslexia reminisces about her years at school:
Even after my assessment showed I was dyslexic, things didn’t feel any clearer. I spent weeks staring at the pages of The Catcher in the Rye, begging the words to go in. Wuthering Heights became a jumbled mess of Heathcliffs. (Rachel Jarmy)
American Theatre interviews stage actor Simon Russell Beale.
What’s the last book you’ve read that you loved? Well, I finally just started reading Graham Greene, who I’d never read before, Travels With My Aunt. It’s sensational. Weirdly, I’ve read two books about 19th-century Europe, one by Julian Barnes and one by Orlando Figes, which are brilliant, all about Europe and the railways, and all these composers and writers whizzing around Europe on the new trains and meeting that.
I went through a funny stage where for 20 years I didn’t read fiction at all. When I left university, where I read English, I decided I’d had enough of fiction. But about three years ago decided that to read all the big boys and girls. I’ve got Joyce. I’ve done Proust, who I thought was amazing. Madame Bovary, which I’d never read. So good.
Did you happen to read MiddlemarchI read it last year.
I did too, oddly enough. Isn’t it great? I’d never read Jane Eyre. Really shaming, you know? I’m doing a lot of 19th century. 
Emirates Woman features shoe designer Najeeba Hayat and her brand Liudmila.
Founded by Kuwait-born designer Najeeba Hayat, her lace up creations not only pay a modern tribute to the Jane Eyre era, but they also focus on comfort thanks to low-heel design. (Diana Bellheather)

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