Northern Ballet Theatre's Wuthering Heights comes to Edinburgh
There are no shortage of love affairs in the annals of English literature, but few burn with the passion of Cathy and Heathcliff. The tragic hero and heroine of Emily Brontë’s 19th century novel Wuthering Heights have been lifted from page to stage and small screen many times over the years. And now, courtesy of Northern Ballet Theatre (NBT), that tumultuous relationship is being brought to life through dance.
Choreographed by NBT’s artistic director, David Nixon with an emotive score by Claude-Michel Schönberg (of Les Miserables and Miss Saigon fame), Wuthering Heights the ballet ends mid-way through the novel, after Cathy’s death. It’s an emotional scene – especially when the dancers involved are real-life partners, as California-born Martha Leebolt discovered when she played Cathy opposite her boyfriend Christopher Hinton-Lewis in 2009.
‘It was awesome,’ recalls Leebolt. ‘At the end when Cathy is dying on the bed, it was just so sad. We were both crying and really in the moment, and I remember thinking we’d better make sure we make that last lift!’ Due to Leebolt incurring an injury, the couple were only able to perform ten shows together – and sadly, now that’s she’s fit again, Hinton-Lewis has suffered a similar fate. But as Leebolt says, no matter who plays Heathcliff, ‘when the music and choreography come together, you can really feel it, even if you’re not dancing with your real partner.’
For Leebolt, taking on the role of the strong-headed but loving Catherine Earnshaw has been a fantastic challenge. ‘I really love the character,’ she says. ‘She’s not just a normal romantic heroine, it’s like playing two characters in one show because her personality is so wide ranging. There are good and bad points about her as a person, but as a role to play for two hours it’s pretty exciting.’
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 11–Sat 13 Mar