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Play Review : Wuthering Heights

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Where : Alliance Francaise, Bangalore
When : Friday, 27th Mar 2009 starting 1930hrs
What : Wuthering Heights
Who : Playwright -> Charles Vance, Author -> Emily Bronte
Why : I read Wuthering Heights in school and was kicked to know about the play. Besides, it had been long since I enjoyed theater.

Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontes only novel and a classic. The protagonists Heathcliff and Catherine(Earnshaw) are headstrong characters. It is a tale of the love-hate relationship they share from childhood and beyond death. Heathcliff often comes across as inhuman. And there is no end to Cathys wavered ways.

The play opens with a soliloquy by Mr Lockwood, tenant at Thrushcross Grange (the other significant real estate in the story) when he visits his landlord Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights. Although unwelcome, a raging storm forces Lockwood to stay overnight wherein he is subjected to a nightmare in which the ghost of a girl named Catherine Earnshaw tries to break in through the window. Upon his return to Thrushcross Grange, he learns through the housekeeper Nelly Dean in detail about the great affection Heathcliff and Catherine had for each other, braving the cruelties unleashed upon them by Hereton Hindley, Cathys elder brother. But Cathy chooses to marry a wealthy Edgar Linton which leaves Heathcliff heartbroken. He disappears for three years only to return as a rich man himself with plans to avenge his sorry past.

The plot of Wuthering Heights undoubtedly offers tremendous scope for actors to showcase their talent, especially the characters of Heathcliff, Catherine Earnshaw and Nelly. These roles were essayed to perfection by Parthasarathy Devarajan, Madhubanti Banerjee and Aparna Warrior respectively. The numerous emotional outbursts of Heathcliff and the subtle nuisances of Cathys character were realistically done by the actors. I wonder how Devarajan managed to cry not once but thrice during the act. It was quite some effort.
The subdued and often unmanly nature of Edgar Lintons character was played well by Ratish Mani. Salil Lal as Hindley Earnshaw was not convincing in a few scenes. Sonu Sarkar as Lockwood sure had diction problems. It came across very clearly on more than one occasion. Although Joseph, domestic help at Wuthering Heights has not got a mention yet but Kartik Iyer did a gem of a job in the role.

The set was minimalistic. However I did not quite get what the piece of furniture in the right corner was. It looked like a mini-piano but it definitely wasn’t that. Also, the location of the window seemed inappropriate for the simple fact that one could see the white wall within a feet of the pane. It appeared funny when Cathy threw the key out of the window and more so when she and Nelly stared out to watch Heathcliff. It looked as if they were staring at a wall. A scenery on the opposite wall or perhaps the window location on either side of the stage might have done the trick.

A quick note on the venue – That Alliance Francaise is not as well-endowed a venue as Ranga Shankara to stage a play is known, but the management should at least arrange for mosquito repellents. The slightly over two hour act might not have felt like a drag towards the end, had it been for more comfortable seating.

On the whole, it was an evening well spent for my companion and myself. I had read Wuthering Heights as a teenager and had found Cathys character quite annoying back then but in this second encounter, she came across as highly endearing and affable.
In spite of it predominantly being a serious play, there were moments which evoked laughter amongst the audience. For instance, when Cathy elicited reasons to Nelly justifying her decision to marry Edgar. Also, later when Cathy admonished Edgar for showing up at the wrong places at the most unwanted of times.

Kudos to the director Kanak Narayan Sen. I most definitely will look forward to future productions from Orange Sky.

Written by Sangfroid

March 31, 2009 at 1:08 am

5 Responses

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  1. whenever I read a post on a play, it always reminds me that I’m yet to see any such live performance on stage 😦


    March 31, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    • Hey, there is something comin up in Hyd this weekend. Will send across the info. Go watch 🙂


      April 1, 2009 at 9:47 am

  2. Wuthering Heights happens to be one of my favourite all time reads. Watching a play of the same would’ve been fun!! 🙂


    March 31, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    • It was indeed! Would have been more had it not been for the mosquitoes 🙂


      April 1, 2009 at 10:26 am

  3. I don’t usually reply to posts but I will in this case, great info…I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

    I’m Out! 🙂

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    January 11, 2010 at 7:11 pm

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