Wuthering Heights

8 October 2014 | 12:01 pm | Helen Stringer

Shake & Stir Theatre Co has made a well-earned mark adapting classics for the stage. Having reimagined Shakespeare and George Orwell to great success the company is now tackling one of the most beloved romances in the English canon, Wuthering Heights. And it seems that Emily Bronte’s dark and destructive love story has them beat.

Wuthering Heights follows the lifelong devolution of the love affair between Cathy and Heathcliff, as they tear each other, themselves, and everybody around them apart with their mutual obsession. Shake & Stir loyally follow the book, with Cathy’s governess, Nelly Dean (Gerry Connolly) narrating the play. But this narration doesn’t translate well: it’s too loquacious, distracting and consumes time that would be better spent on action. Scenes seem prematurely clipped with sudden jumps in time clumsily handled. One can’t help but think there must be another, more clever, or at least more succinct way of presenting the novel on stage.

On the plus side, Melanie Zanetti is captivating as Catherine Earnshaw in her various incarnations and Ross Balbuziente puts in a gallant effort as Heathcliff, for the most part engendering Heathcliff with the menace that typifies the character. Likewise, the supporting cast almost lift this production from drudgery, but they’re given scant opportunity to flex their acting chops. Performances aside, Wuthering Heights, simply, doesn’t quite work.

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