Wuthering Heights, Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, London
Wednesday 10 June 2009
Considered as a possible dance adaptation, Wuthering Heights is a daunting prospect. Emily Brontë's novel is famous for its driven characters and brooding power, but it also has a rambling, jumpy narrative, stuffed with intricate relationships. Cathy Marston's new dance version strips down the novel, simplifying the plot. But the stylised choreography and designs smooth away contrasts between characters. Despite some atmospheric moments, Marston is a long way from Brontë's Romantic fury.
Jann Messerli's set is a spare evocation of the novel's moorland setting. Dark, angled shapes suggest hills and houses. Overhead, horizontal rods suggest lowering clouds. Dorothee Brodrück's costumes are similarly stylised, with little sense of period: Cathy wears a short, light dress and leggings.
The designs are non-specific but atmospheric. When the choreography takes the same approach, however, it comes across as vagueness. Marston shows Cathy surrounded by the men in her life, trying to keep a grip on her soulmate Heathcliff, on her stepbrother, on her husband. The characters circle each other, clasping hands or pulling away, yearning from opposite ends of the stage.
Though Gary Marshall broods away as Heathcliff, his steps are rarely wilder or fiercer than anybody else's. Only his violent dance with Isabella has any sense of anger to set him apart from the politeness of the Linton family.
It can be hard to tell her characters apart, particularly since Marston also adds "echoes" of Cathy and Heathcliff, extra dancers who act out their emotions. The echo effect can be striking – but it does increase the numbers of hard-to-identify characters on stage.
The score is by Dave Maric, who sets Mich Gerber's double bass, played live, against electronic samples of the same instrument. It creates a soundscape of sweeping lines, knocks and scribbles that suggest howling gales.
Performances are light in tone – not surprisingly, given their setting and choreography. Jenny Tattersall dances Cathy with focus, her attentive movement suggesting the character's fixations. Chien-Ming Chang and Hui-Chen Tsai, as Linton and his sister Isabella, do well as cooler characters drawn into the turmoil of Cathy and Heathcliff's relationships – even if the turmoil itself is underplayed in this production.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
healthJames Bond's alcohol consumption puts him at 'high risk' of cirrhosis, tremors... and impotence
Arts & Ents blogs
Jack Whitehall crowned king of British Comedy Awards
American Psycho , theatre review: Matt Smith regenerates as ripped uber-narcissist
MasterChef: The Professionals 2013 - Steven Edwards, Adam Handling and Scott Davies are the final three
MasterChef: The Professionals 2013 - Steven Edwards crowned winner
Kanye West is as 'misguided as they come': Ohio police chief rejects rapper's claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Italian court annuls prison sentence for elderly paedophile after 11-year-old victim tells investigators in Catanzaro that she loves him
- 3 Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 4 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- < Previous
- Next >