Feature: Northern Ballet Theatre

Friday 7 April 2006

Northern Ballet Theatre
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, March 12-22
Wuthering Heights
review by Francisco Javier Orjales-Mourente

When the story of Wuthering Heights is pared down to its bare essentials you are left with passion — repressed passion that has to be held back because of others’ own repressed genteel veneer. To accentuate this, choreographer David Nixon has Emily Bronte’s lovers kiss, for the first time, half way through the second act. By then, the tension has been built to such a degree that you too are up there wanting to be kissed some more, lots more…

As Heathcliff, Jonathan Byrne Ollivier is an outstanding dancer and actor who not only holds the production together but also draws the audience’s attention. Through Ollivier, Heathcliff’s powerful presence is felt even when he is not on stage. He plays the raw, sexual, fury-fuelled Heathcliff brilliantly. His solo in anticipation of his beloved’s arrival (danced on and around a table), is breathtaking. He is a child, a man, innocent and cunning; a slave and a master, vulnerable and brutal.

Equally notable is the music which, like the novel, simmers beneath the surface. This is Claude-Michel Schönberg’s first ballet score and is reminiscent of his musical theatre compositions. In Wuthering Heights the underdog strives to get on top just like the oppressed in Les Misérables. And just like Martin Guerre himself, the outsider in Wuthering Heights wants to get in, be loved and get accepted. ‘At the end of the day’, isn’t that what we all want?

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