Lifeline Theatre presents
At 6912 N. Glenwood
Written by Emily Bronte
Adapted for the stage by Christina Calvit
Directed by Elise Kauzlaric
Thru October 31st
Running time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes a ten minute intermission and delayed start
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
Cathy and Heathcliff: soulmates destined for eternity! It’s not quite the pretty ‘happily everafter’… everafter of storybook endings. Lifeline Theatre presents WUTHERING HEIGHTS, the timeless romance written by Emily Bronte and skillfully adapted to the stage by Christina Calvit. Heathcliff is abandoned as a baby. He is raised by the Earnshaws as a surrogate son/servant. Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff grow up together as rebel-rousing youth. They’re inseparable… even when they are apart! Their all-consuming love is the catalyst for marriage… but not to each other. Cathy decides to marry the neighbor. Heathcliff reacts to the betrayal with a revenge plan that spans generations. Love hurts. Love stinks. Love never dies!?! WUTHERING HEIGHTS is what happens when a turbulent love goes tornado destructive. It’s an epic twister that sucks up everybody in its path…including the audience!
Revenge over generations can get complicated and confusing especially when cousins marry. Cameron Feagin (Nelly) begins the show with introductions and guides the audience through the story with relevant narration. Feagin transitions perfectly from telling the story to being in the story with insightful ease. As a sage, she cuts to the essence with ‘who should forgive and who should be forgiven?’ Director Elise Kauzlaric stages the beginnings and endings of acts with all the characters, dead and alive, on stage. It’s a haunting visual that reinforces the supernatural love story. Under Kauzlaric’s direction, the entire cast engages with a lingering poignancy. The eye of the storm, Lindsay Leopold (Cathy) is verbally and physically commanding. Her attempts to ‘go home to Wuthering Heights’ are thwarted with spooky misery. Gregory Isaac (Heathcliff) is the tormented turned diabolical. Issac’s complicated portrayal is a man so obsessed with love for one woman that he hates all others, including his own son. The entire ensemble provides classic novel performances adding to the gusty page turner pace. Initially and sporadically, the cast chants ‘who are you?’ and ‘don’t let me go’ seemingly random statements that connect the beginning to the end with a deliberate finality.
Set in the moors of Yorkshire, Scenic Designer Alan Donahue gives the stage a mystical quality with swirling metallic greens, golds and browns. Mesh screens and circular layered platforms illustrate the woods and houses separated by a hanging door. The costumes by Branimira Ivanova are stunning. The elaborate finery is showcased against the simple backdrop to conjure up the gothic drama unfolding. WUTHERING HEIGHTS is a literary masterpiece that overwhelms potential readers by its cult following and ominous reputation. Playwright Christina Calvit blows the mystique away with manageable Bronte bites. This show captivates from preface to epilogue. Lifeline Theatre promises and delivers ‘big stories, up close.’ Having never read WUTHERING HEIGHTS, I left the theatre amazed at the powerful story and crossing it off my bucket list.