Although in the days leading up to this outdoor theatre production the grounds of Castle Howard must have been doing a good impression of the windswept, rain-soaked moors, by the time the audience arrived for this first night, the weather had become benign and sunny. While this may not have enhanced the drama of the piece, it certainly made for a more comfortable audience experience.
The setting was a large enclosure in the walled garden, not normally open to
the public. The set was very simple – an area of decking with a range of
wooden stepladders behind and clothes rails left and right which doubled as
screens for costume changes. This may not sound very evocative but the
cast were able to transport us to Cathy and Heathcliff’s world through the
quality of their acting, the imaginative use of props and mime, and a wide
range of ingenious sound effects. From time to time, the intense action
was relieved by original music. April de Angelis’ thorough adaptation of Emily
Bronte’s classic novel is a very worthy addition to more famous ones that have
The standard of acting was very high for an outdoor performance. Among a strong cast, Alice Welby, a relative newcomer to the company, stood out as Cathy. She was exceptional at conveying, sometimes just by facial expression, the quicksilver changes of mood of the troubled heroine. Tyler Conti as Heathcliff evoked our sympathy as the young man, only to cast it aside as his character developed. James Sheldon, as Mr Lockwood the prospective tenant of Heathcliff, helped us through the story with wit and dry humour. Much of the action was introduced by the maid (played in a sympathetic and suitably no-nonsense way by Helen Belbin) recounting the backstory to Mr Lockwood – a simple but effective device.
The Oxford Shakespeare Company have staged productions at venues such as
Hampton Court and Kensington Palace since forming 18 years ago, but this is
their first visit to Castle Howard. If you can only go to one outdoor
theatre production this summer, I recommend you make it this one.
Castle Howard grounds, Wednesday 26 – Sunday 30 June 7.30pm. Thursday and Sunday, 2.30pm matinee.
Emily Bronte’s compelling love story in an adaptation jointly produced by the Oxford Shakespeare Company and Lamplighter Drama. This superlative tale of love and revenge – the tempestuous relationship of Heathcliff and Cathy from children to thwarted adults – is a timeless icon that continues to captivate audiences young and old to this day. This is a live outdoor theatre production.
The OSC are famous for their open air and site-specific productions in exceptional historic venues including Hampton Court and Kensington Palaces, and the Tower of London.
The Father’s Day Classic Car & Motor Show offers a spectacular day of motoring heritage ideal for enthusiasts, day trippers and families.
The event will feature an exciting display of vintage, classic and modern classic vehicles displayed on the basis of age (pre-60s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90 – 04) and type (sports and convertibles, kit, custom and replica, American and electric vehicles).
Why the picture of the BBC Countryfile team? Well, only that the Slingsby May Day team have secured a pair of tickets for BBC Countryfile Live at Castle Howard (15-18 August 2019), courtesy of our friends at the big house up the road. These will boost the already attractive prizes available in the raffle to be run at Slingsby’s May day celebrations on Monday 6 May. Full details of everything going on round Slingsby’s Maypole on Monday, and the other prizes to be won, can be found HERE