Review - Wuthering Heights - National Tour

Wuthering Heights - National Tour

Inspector Sands’ touring production of Wuthering Heights is a take on Emily Bronte’s classic novel.  It tells the story from the perspective of housekeeper, Nelly Dean (Giulia Innocenti), who is being asked by a group of mysterious voices to ‘tell the story’, fully, without missing anything out. We then follow siblings Catherine (Lua Bairstow), Heathcliff (Ike Bennett) and Hinley Earnshaw (John Askew) who all live at Wuthering Heights, who soon meet siblings Edgar (Leander Deeny) and Isabella Linton (Nicole Sawyerr). Without spoiling the plot, it’s a story about love, wealth, power and death, eventually looking into the stories of the next generation: Cathy (Catherine and Edgar’s daughter- Nicole Sawyerr), Linton (Heathcliff and Isabella’s daughter- Leander Deeny) and Hareton (Hinley and Frances’ son- John Askew).

Entering the auditorium, I am immediately excited by the atmosphere of different birdcalls being identified by an unknown voice over the speakers, while the smoky stage contains nothing but a table with vegetables on and a chair, a ladder, and an empty family tree connected with string, which is completed throughout the play. Something that I particularly like about this production is the use of multi-rolling from Leander Deeny, John Askew and Nicole Sawyerr. Costume changes happening right in front of your eyes: with Deeny’s simple removal of his blazer revealing a superhero cape and putting on a mask, a simple ‘ta-da’ sound effect and change of physicality, he changes from Edgar to Linton in the space of seconds. The comedy of this moment is executed excellently and compliments Deeny’s hilarious performance.

For me, Leander Deeny and John Askew deliver the stand out performances in this play. Both actors deliver a range of comedic to serious moments perfectly. Deeny’s social awkwardness as Edgar and fed-up, childlike nature of Linton is brilliant, as is Askew’s portrayal of a drunken Hinley and illiterate Hareton. In all honesty, there is no performer that falls behind in performance. Every actor suits their role perfectly. Nicole Sawyerr’s delivery of the casual use of swearing and reaction to Edgar’s “I did two cartwheels!” and “Well sometimes I find your choreography boring!” during their awkward dance routine was hilarious. That moment really stands out, particularly because of my love for comedy, but all actors also give incredible, serious, touching and spine-tingling performances throughout to deliver Bronte’s intended messages.

I really love Inspector Sands’ take on this play. In short, it’s almost modern, but not quite. The mash of modern and era-appropriate costume, set, props, language and performance is the perfect way to deliver this cultural classic to a 2023 audience.

This performance was reviewed on Thursday 18th May 2023 at the Warwick Arts Centre.

Wuthering Heights is currently on a National, booking until 10th June 2023. For more details and tickets, please visit: Calendar | Inspector Sands

***** stars

Harrison Horsley

Catch Harrison’s show, ‘In The Spotlight’, every Saturday between 2pm-4pm on Box Office Radio

Photo credit: Alex Brenner