Cathy: A Retelling of Wuthering Heights

Brickhouse Theatre Company tackle a difficult task: remoulding Emily Bronte’s passionate, intricate and dark Wuthering Heights into a new musical, written and composed by Michael Bascom. Cathy and Heathcliff are star-crossed lovers, soul-mates whose relationship faces trial and tragedy at every turn until a romantic ending is finally realised.

This is a well-crafted show performed with commitment and vigour

In this production the story is very much condensed and stripped back, mirrored in the bare stage – a piano features centre-back with three small black tables manipulated to suggest scenery and objects – and the uncanny all-white costumes. This effectively accompanies Oscar George Copper’s fast-paced, no-nonsense direction: scene changes are immediate, demanding attention from the audience from start to finish. For example, in response to Cathys "let him in", a sudden lighting shift is simultaneous with Heathcliff sharply turning to face her, suggesting his entrance into the room seamlessly. Elements of stylisation including this and the colligated use of a sheet as a swaddled baby and then a bed sheet, is a successful way to manoeuvre around the density and high levels of description and scene-changes innate in a novel.

The cast are superb at executing Bascom and Copper’s vision, bringing energy to every line and entrance. Overall the acting was competent, particularly towards the end of the piece in the duologues between Cathy and Heathcliff. However, the passion and ardour in these moments between the two felt marginally sudden and without prior development – this is not decidedly the fault of the actors but of how compressed the story has to be in a 1hr10 show. Despite the energy this retelling brought, my overarching criticism is that the speed distances the audience from character investment, thereby draining the story from the raw emotion and strength which grips the reader in Bronte’s original.

However, no criticism can be given for Bascom’s composition. The classical quality, with hints of folk, is perfect for such a haunting but beautiful story. The five-person cast blend their voices effortlessly, producing an ethereal quality when they sing together a cappella. Emma Torrens’ soaring soprano voice is standout. Subtle motifs in the piano immediately notion the sublime Yorkshire moors in which this story take place.

While I am not convinced that the musical fully captures the same intensity and enchanting power of Bronte’s writing, this is a well-crafted show performed with commitment and vigour. The voices is where it most excels and, while it most appeals to literary enthusiasts, it should not be overlooked by a wider audience.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Maddie Dunn

theSpaceTriplex

The Yellow Wallpaper

★★★★
theSpace @ Niddry St / theSpace @ Venue45 / theSpace on the Mile

Cathy: A Retelling of Wuthering Heights

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

This new musical by Michael Bascom retells the story of Heathcliff and Cathy, two soul-bound lovers thwarted by family, society and God. The sun shines over the moors, but a storm of vengeance is brewing in this story of a passionate romance which transcends life – and death – itself. Described as 'a highly moving production, brilliantly depicting the tragedy and passion of Bronte's novel' (TCS), the show sees its Fringe debut after premiering last November to a critically acclaimed, sold-out run at the University of Cambridge.

Most Popular See More

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Hairspray

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets