‘It’s a story of dysfunctional people making mistakes’ – Emily Brontë’s classic tale comes to York theatre
Cathy’s coming home – as this classic Yorkshire tale heads to York Theatre Royal.
Adapted for the stage by Emma Rice, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is transformed into a ‘uniquely theatrical experience’ with music and dance.
Wuthering Heights will be at York Theatre Royal from Tuesday 9 to Saturday 20 November 2021.
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The show is a co-production between York Theatre Royal, Wise Children, Bristol Old Vic, and the National Theatre.
Set in the Yorkshire Moors, Wuthering Heights is a story of love, revenge and redemption for our time.
It stars actor and performance artist Lucy McCormick (Post Popular) as Cathy and star of stage and screen Ash Hunter (Hamilton, Harlots) as Heathcliff.
Tickets start at £15 and are available via the York Theatre Royal website.
Q&A with Lucy McCormick and Ash Hunter
What are you finding the most challenging and enjoyable part of the process?
Ash Hunter (A): It’s very busy but very brilliant. The audiences are amazing and we’re getting into the flow of it. It’s a beast of a show which we’re very proud of, but it does take a lot of energy to do so we’re working out how to manage that.
Emma Rice’s style is so distinctive, how would you describe it?
Lucy McCormick (L): Colourful and dramatic but very theatrical and very musical. A bit of everything.
A: I read somewhere that it’s ‘theatre magic’ and I think that a very apt description of her style. She’s got a massive bag of tricks which she can delve into to create something rare and different to the theatre you see anywhere else.
She clearly has a love for the stage and all of its facets; puppetry, song, dance, there’s nothing that doesn’t happen in this production.
How are you feeling about getting stuck into this production, especially after the last two years?
L: I’ve known about this job during that whole time which was weird. It got postponed twice during those two years, but it’s good to be back being busy.
A: Previous to lockdown the last couple of jobs I have had were in TV, so it’s great to be back on stage again. But this has always been a huge production that we’ve been leading up to. So I think in terms of emotion and preparation it’s been quite a big shift starting Wuthering Heights.
What can you tell us about Cathy and Heathcliff as characters – what sort of Heathcliff and Cathy will we see in this version of Wuthering Heights?
L: I’m a bit more intense than Cathy in my actual life.
A: I think what’s quite clear is that we have some similarities to our characters in real life.
I think I’m a lot like him, especially the version that we are doing here. We were saying the version of Heathcliff here isn’t colourblind casting, he is black, he’s got a Jamaican accent. He’s spurned and treated like an outcast, not only because of his poverty or social standing but because of his colour, and that anger that is brewed up within him is a righteous anger.
It’s something that I have felt – I think he is me if I hadn’t found my peace. I actually think that he is less brutal than the Heathcliff in the books, and there was a desire to show that people are not entirely bad or entirely good.
Why do you think this is a story to be telling now?
A: For me, it’s specific to what’s going on in the world and with me and my relationship with my blackness and masculinity. I’m hoping there are people who are going to see this and identify with Heathcliff and his struggles, if you treat someone like a monster then you create a monster.
Hopefully people see that reflection and even out of that can come love and positivity, and if you do face that and deal with your demons something good can loom from it.
L: It’s like reality TV, these awful people play out their lives and people love to look in on it and their mistakes and hopefully learn from them.
It’s a classic story of dysfunctional people making mistakes and hopefully an audience can analyse it and see where it went wrong. Because people can be rubbish. And that’s never going to change, unfortunately.
This is a classic Yorkshire tale, how are your accents coming along?
A: I’m speaking with a Caribbean accent – I love it because of the lyricalness of it. I can’t imagine doing it another way and also where it places him and my voice. It is there to differentiate him from everyone else, you can’t get away from his otherness.
The choice that when he comes back a gentleman, that he hasn’t changed his accent, he’s a more refined posh deeper Jamaican accent but he’s not trying to change who he is, he’s owning it – it’s beautiful.
L: What was weird for me is that it’s close to my accent but not my accent. I’ve almost found that harder than say an American accent or whatever else I’ve done. It’s just working on that subtle difference. Tweaking my own voice. It’s quite annoying!
What can audiences expect to feel after watching this adaptation of Wuthering Heights?
A: Exhausted! It’s a whole gambit of human emotions! Emma hasn’t left anything out.
L: They are going to laugh, they’re going to cry. And feel celebratory at the end but they will have gone through a journey.
Coming next at York Theatre Royal
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