Northern Ballet Theatre

'Wuthering Heights'

by Stuart Sweeney

March 21, 2003 -- The Sadler's Wells Theatre

The reviews for last year's premier of "Wuthering Heights" were not encouraging, so I wasn't full of anticipation for the performance at Sadler's Wells. However, I was told that the production had developed over the past months and in the event I enjoyed it a lot. Perhaps I should confess that I haven't read the book, so I wasn't faced with that potentially disappointing comparison.

As Heathcliff, Jonathan Ollivier gives it all he's got, right from the explosive first scene of anguished loss on the moor. Choreographer and Artistic Director David Nixon has given him exciting steps and also ensures that Charlotte Talbot's Cathy shifts smoothly from tomboy to lady of themManor on point and then to despair. In her conflicting attraction to both love and wealth and the passion of the duets between the two leads, I was sometimes reminded of "Manon."

In contrast to this abandoned dancing, there are far more conventional ballet steps for Edgar, the wealthy husband of Cathy, and his friends. These scenes suit the characterisations, but can become a little dull. Nevertheless, as Edgar, Hironao Takahashi displays the elegance and soft landings that we have come to expect from him.

The sets also came in for some criticism when first seen, but I enjoyed the stylised recreation of the moor and Wuthering Heights and with a headboard like water rushes in a storm, Cathy's luxury bed is to die for. "Les Mierables" composer Claude-Marie Schoenberg’s score provides a framework for the steps, without ever inspiring.

If you enjoy ballet theatre, then this is certainly a production to see.

Edited by Mary Ellen Hunt.

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