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The Heights

The Arches
3 stars
Kate Bush got it right when, aged 19, she condensed Emily Bronte’s doomed moors-set romance into a four and a half minute pop classic. The young Cork-based Playgroup company don’t quite go that far in this still barely there work in progress developed over a two-week residency at The Arches, but they come pretty close. More show and tell than show per se, this is a 35 minute presentation concerning what may or may not be required to put on something that could eventually end up as a finished product of The Heights.

The result as it stands is a self-referencing sketch-book juxtaposition between out-front contemporary reworkings of the piece’s source material set against deadpan folksy renditions of Bonnie Tyler’s bombastic smash hit, Total Eclipse of The Heart and, yes, Kate Bush’s precocious mini masterpiece. The image of street corner buskers is all too appropriate.

While one could question the necessity of showing such developing work on a public platform, let alone charging eight quid for the privilege, it will be fascinating to see the finished whole when the company return. As speculative as any interpretation is just now, one can imagine director Tom Creed and his bright if at times rudderless young cast ripping up Bronte’s set-text classic and injecting new life into it beyond literary groupiedom in much the same way the late novelist Kathy Acker appropriated such material.

The fact that the final Pan’s People style dance routine is the most literal thing on show bodes well. While the heights Playgroup are reaching after have yet to be dizzy ones, a windswept and interesting future awaits.

The Herald, July 15th 2007

ends

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