My home county of Yorkshire is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in England. West Yorkshire in particular is home to the moody Yorkshire Moors, also known as Brontë country, where the second oldest of the three sisters set her classic novel Wuthering Heights. Adapted for the stage a few years ago by Lucy Gough, this version of the dark and romantic tale is making an appearance at the Drama Barn this weekend, directed by Bethany Hughes.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Wuthering Heights in your time – it’s become a powerful folk fable that’s popular throughout the world, and people pop from all over to visit the moors. In the early nineteenth century, Cathy Earnshaw (Elizabeth Cooke) and Heathcliff (Ross Telfer), brought into her house by her father, grow up together and form a truly special bond, only for it to be broken several years later by the rigidity of class and restrictiveness of background. While playing on the moors one day, Cathy is attacked by the dog of upper class tweedle Edgar Linton (Ben Kawalec), who takes Cathy in and looks after her. When she returns back from their home, Heathcliff is horrified to see her character change. It isn’t long before class demands that Cathy marry Edgar, but when she does, her love for Heathcliff can’t keep her away. Darkness soon comes to the moors when Heathcliff vows revenge on those who tore them apart, and it’s a darkness that haunts him until the end of his days and on his path of destruction.

Of course, the book has a way of capturing this rich, shifting atmosphere, but does Gough’s adaptation? Yes! And this production executes her re-juggling of the events in the book very nicely, and evokes the book’s atmosphere in a new way through the fast scene transitions. Lighting and music all play a large part in doing this, and keep things running smoothly throughout. There are times, however, when I felt that music and sound could be used further to enhance the atmosphere and mood of each scene and transition – the first time music is used is when Cathy and Heathcliff run out onto the moors together, and it marks a very poignant moment within the play. If music were used to effect throughout, including in scene transitions, then the atmosphere would have been much stronger. Having said that, Hughes’s decision to bullet-point certain moments with music does work effectively, and creates emotional peaks and troughs throughout to further enhance those of the characters.

Speaking of which, characterisation here is pretty strong. Cooke and Telfer portray their roles very well, tapping into nuances of age and experience as the play moves forward. It’s all about detail when it comes to crafting well-rounded characters, and it’s very clear that this has been a crucial part this production’s creation. From the change in accents to the shift in physicality, Cooke and Telfer – and indeed most of the cast – do an excellent job of breathing life into the characters of Brontë’s classic novel.

A simplistic set also enables us to focus on the characters and their emotions, which underpin the entirety of the action within the play. Empty frames and rustic wooden furniture bind us into Heathcliff’s cyclical struggle, and the never-ending cycle of love that continues to haunt the family for generations. These characters have survived well into the present day and Hughes emphasises this fact perfectly.

This is a brilliant, well-considered and enjoyable production of Wuthering Heights. Driven by imagination, emotion and desire, it’s well worth a watch.

Wuthering Heights is playing at the Drama Barn until 22 November. For more information and tickets, visit the York University Students’ Union website. Photo: DramaSoc.