Review: Northern Ballet's Wuthering Heights

Martha Leebolt as Cathy and Tobias Batley as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.
Martha Leebolt as Cathy and Tobias Batley as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.
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For various reasons Wuthering Heights has particular significance for me – as it has for many – so I approached Northern Ballet’s version of Emily Bronte’s classic story with some trepidation.

For various reasons Wuthering Heights has particular significance for me – as it has for many – so I approached Northern Ballet’s version of Emily Bronte’s classic story with some trepidation.

I had heard lots of good things about it, but would it live up to expectations? Would it be faithful to the book? And, most of all, how on earth do you translate a work of such literary complexity into a dance piece? I needn’t have worried. Aside from the fact that, like many film and stage adaptations, it only tells half the story of Emily Bronte’s original, excising the whole of the second part, the production is an absolute delight from start to finish.

Northern Ballet artistic director David Nixon’s beautifully nuanced choreography, at times robust, sexy and energetic, at others heart-breakingly tender – complemented by Claude-Michel Schoenberg’s superb score – perfectly expresses the youthful joy as well as the dangerous, destructive passions at play in the novel as Cathy and Heathcliff (Rachael Gillespie and Jeremy Curnier as the wild, carefree youngsters and Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley as their troubled adult counterparts) hurtle towards inevitable tragedy.

There was an odd badminton playing scene (badminton, on the Yorkshire Moors?) which seemed out of place, but that’s a minor criticism of a production that is outstanding in every way.

Bradford Alhambra to November 21. bradford-theatres.co.uk