Wuthering Heights is a gloomy novel. Written by Emily Brontë in 1847, it’s a classic Gothic romance with barely any romance, an abundance of death, and a seething underbelly of brutal, brutish violence. Wise Children have taken the novel, smooshed it together with a rock musical mother and an ensemble theatre father, and have let the ensuing love child stampede its way into Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre.

This adaptation of Wuthering Heights sticks to both the plot and the structure of the novel. We see the child, Heathcliff, rescued from the Liverpool docks and subsequently adopted by the kindly Mr Earnshaw who refuses to accept that his own son wouldn’t embrace the newcomer with the same enthusiasm. Yet while the son ridicules and wreaks revenge on the orphan, sMr Earnshaw’s daughter, Catherine, embraces his difference. The children grow up together and, though Catherine’s head is turned by Edgar, the foppish, rich boy next door, her heart’s always with Heathcliff. Some bad stuff happens – and another generation of bad stuff happens – before the generational misery concludes with a slim glimmer of hope.

It’s a lot to cram into almost three-hour (including interval) stage show, however director Emma Rice is undaunted. She’s flung in puppets (choreographed by puppetry director John Leader), song, and a live band who effortlessly skitter from Bach to gothic rock-style howls to the moon. The masterstroke, though, is the Moor, realised as an ensemble chorus led by the majestic Nandi Bhebhe. Liam Tamne is suitably brooding as the maligned but ultimately heroic Heathcliff. Lucy McCormick is a ball of teenage rage as Catherine, his ill-fated sweetheart. Katy Owen is an effervescent delight as Edgar’s inquisitive little sister,  while Craig Johnson is a delightfully affable Mr Earnshaw and a comically (right side of) camp doctor.

None of this quite does justice to what the production has pulled off. Vicki Mortimer‘s set design transforms the stage into the mud, brush, and scrub of the Yorkshire moors. The boisterous ensemble seethe in the mud, scramble up the trees, and rage at the stars. The script verges on Greek tragedy but the adaptation brings us bang up to date. Though his exact origin is unclear, the ‘otherness’ of Heathcliff’s character is beautifully handled. Catherine’s domineering older brother, Hindley (Tama Phethean) seizes the excuse to first bully and then beat him up. And it’s a hideous reminder that as displaced people wander the world seeking safety, they’re not always made welcome.

This production may be based on a Victorian novel but Miss Brontë’s message is sadly pertinent today.