School Show: ‘Wuthering Heights’ review

‘Wuthering Heights’ review Review by Hafsah Latif
– our Year 9 Expressive Arts roving reporter

Batley Girls’ High School performed an adaption of the famous Emily Brontë novel ‘Wuthering Heights’ as a play, putting an original spin on it and making it new and refreshing to the younger generation. I saw the show on Friday 18 March when the school staged its final performance for 170 local BBEST students and their teachers. This year the school also put on a matinee performance on Thursday 17 March, as well as the normal evening show, so that senior members of the local community and Year 7 students were able to attend, and also those who could not always come out to an evening showing. I thought this was a really good idea as it catered to the needs of all areas of the school and local community. The show also raised £375 for Martin House Children’s Hospice, NSPCC and Oxfam International.

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Miss Rodrigues, the Producer, gave the young audience some background to the novel, telling them about the history of the Brontë sisters and how in the Victorian age it was scandalous for a woman to write a book about betrayed passions. She also drew our attention to the fact that the Director, Mr Evans, had chosen a Brontë play this year to fit in with the local and national celebrations of Brontë 200. I had not realised this was happening and afterwards, when talking to Mrs Knox, she said a member of the Brontë Society had been to see the show the previous night and was blown away with how they had adapted the world famous Victorian novel to make it accessible and relevant for a modern audience.

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The musical choices for the play were fitting towards the raw emotions of the main characters, showing how their pasts made the characters who they were. The student and staff band captured such songs as Queen’s ‘You’re My Best Friend’ and U2’s ‘With or Without You’ perfectly, fitting in with the emotional turmoil of the plot and really making the audience empathise with the characters. Cathy and Heathcliff endured the most, their pasts separating them but at the end they came together in death. I loved the use of Shirley Bassey song ‘History Repeating’ to highlight the circle becoming whole again at the end for the residents of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange with the forthcoming marriage of young Cathy and Hareton.

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As the play ended with a flourish with the haunting singing of Courtney Haigh and the whole cast of ‘Feeling Good’, so did the tale of ‘Wuthering Heights’. All in all, everyone deserves so much praise for pulling everything off. In the interval Miss Rodrigues admitted it had been really nerve wracking whether such a young cast of students could pull off such a challenging novel but in the end it was worth it. Watching it opened my eyes to human equality and Emily Brontë’s meaning was deeper than just a love story. Her intention was to open people’s eyes to prejudice and unkindness because as the show highlighted, to use one of the natural images of the novel, what you reap is what you sow.