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REVIEW: Wuthering Heights at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

PUBLISHED: 11:14 07 October 2015 | UPDATED: 11:14 07 October 2015

Cathy and Heathcliff. Picture: Emma Kauldhar

Cathy and Heathcliff. Picture: Emma Kauldhar

Archant

The show is at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury.

Cathy and Heathcliff. Picture: Emma KauldharCathy and Heathcliff. Picture: Emma Kauldhar

“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

This is how Cathy describes her feelings for Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s iconic novel Wuthering Heights - which has fascinated readers for more than 100 years.

The book translates perfectly into the dramatic art form of ballet, and Northern Ballet’s production, directed by David Nixon, is captivating.

The show features an original score from Claude-Michel Schonberg, who also composed the music for Les Miserables and Miss Saigon.

The story begins when Cathy and Hindley’s father brings scruffy child Heathcliff home to join their family.

Cathy is instantly drawn to him, causing Hindley to despise the young boy for intruding on their previously uninterrupted companionship.

When their father dies, Hindley becomes the master of Wuthering Heights and frequently subjects him to cruel abuse.

Despite this, kindred spirits Cathy and Heathcliff are never happier than when they are together, dancing beautifully and fluidly with one another and running wild around the moors as they grow from childhood to adulthood.

They are portrayed brilliantly during both stages of their lives - with Rachael Gillespie and Jeremy Curnier playing the young pair and Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley playing their adult counterparts.

One day, their adventures take them to Thrushcross Grange, home to affluent siblings Edgar and Isabella Linton.

They wreak havoc on an outdoor gathering, a suitable premonition of the impact they will have on the Linton’s lives.

Cathy injures her ankle, and is separated from her beloved Heathcliff.

While she is cared for by the wealthy family and allowed to stay with them during her lengthy recovery, there is no place for wild-natured Heathcliff there, and he is forcibly removed.

It is clear to see Cathy falling in love with her surroundings, pirouetting excitedly around her lavish bedroom in the Linton household.

While her and Edgar have nothing whatsoever in common, she is drawn to the trappings of wealth, waited on by servants - one of which seems disproportionately terrified about the prospect of serving tea on a tray - and given beautiful dresses and jewellery.

When she returns to her childhood home, despite being thrilled to see Heathcliff again, her longing for these material possessions does not go away.

One thing can provide her with that wealth - a marriage to Edgar.

This is what she chooses, despite the fact that their union will never result in the same intense love she already feels for Heathcliff.

In the wake of this heartbreak, it becomes easy to see why he becomes so jaded, beaten and abused throughout his early life and rejected by the woman he loves - who strikes him across the face in an emotionally charged scene.

He leaves, intent on revenge, and later returns as a wealthy gentleman, plying the already damaged Hindley with alcohol and money to encourage his unhealthy gambling habit, before persauding him to sign Wuthering Heights over to him.

He involves naive Isabella in his scheme, using her to provoke Cathy’s jealousy.

Despite everything, the love that Cathy and Heathcliff feel for each other never fades, and the intense scenes where they dance together are breathtaking - including one particularly powerful one on the moors, the location of their prior carefree happiness.

There is no happy ending on the horizon for the pair, with Cathy’s tragic and untimely death leaving Heathcliff devastated.

They are eventually reunited in death the way that they wished to be in life.

Wuthering Heights will be at the Marlowe Theatre until Saturday (October 10). Visit www.marlowetheatre.com to book.

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