Literary critic Frederic Jameson, once described Emily Brontë’s Heathcliff as a protocapitalist who “recodes the new economic energies as sexual passion”. This may sound a bit esoteric to all but theory anoraks. However, 3BUGS Fringe Theatre’s adaptation of the classic novel suggests that a similar political unconscious is here at work. Cutting straight to the chase, this denim clad staging completely extirpates the chapters about Heathcliff’s adoption and childhood with Cathy, choosing instead to focus on his disappearance and thundering return.
As the second show in 3BUGS’ The Morning After Season, the performance offers much the same as The Pink Bedroom. The set remains largely the same (though not as garish), the actors are of the same competency and the overall performance is solid without being special. Yet re-situating events to the ‘unfulfilled generation of the 1980s’ in a humdrum, recently de-industrialised north gives the show something more. The soundtrack, beginning with The Smiths and The Cure before shifting to The Cardigans, pins this squarely between the second Thatcher and the first New Labour governments – or Big Bang to bank deregulation. Heathcliff’s return after a sudden, mysterious acquisition of money doesn’t just make him a protocapitalist; it makes him a yuppie.