Lady Chatterley is a kit-off fest at Cambridge Arts Theatre

An English Touring Theatre and Sheffield Theatres production
Writer D.H.L

LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER An English Touring Theatre and Sheffield Theatres production Writer D.H.Lawrence Director Phillip Breen Designer Laura Hopkins Lighting Designer Natasha Chivers Sound Designer Andrea J Cox Movement Director Ayse Tashkiran Casting Director Charlotte Sutton Associate Director George Richmond-Scott Fight Director Renny Krupinski Cast Mrs Flint/ Mrs Bentley/ Singer Aretha Ayeh Constance Chatterley Hedydd Dylan Sir Clifford Chatterley Eugene O'Hare Michaelis / Trade Unionist / Dan Coutts / Albert Adam Will Irvine Sir Malcolm Reid / Mr Linley / Field / Doctor Ciaran McIntyre Pianist David Osmond Oliver Mellors Jonah Russell Ivy Bolton Rachel Sanders Hilda Alice Selwyn - Credit: Photo by Mark Douet

After nearly 90 years, is Lady Chatterley’s Lover still naughty? This adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s notorious novel at the Arts Theatre, is a veritable kit-off fest as the posh Lady Chatterley gets on down with the earthy gamekeeper Mellors. She does this many many times – one reason why the play is a very long one, almost three hours.

The story as filleted by writer and director Philip Breen, revolves around the young Connie Chatterley, bored and frustrated by living with her tetchy husband the wealthy mine-owning Sir Clifford. He has been paralysed by action in World War One and is trying, unsuccessfully to become a playwright. Connie’s sexual frustrations boil over when she meets the new young gamekeeper, the macho working-class Mellors. It’s lust at first sight and it’s not long before shirts, drawers and everything else is removed and the simulated bonking begins.

It would be lovely to say that the lengthy drama was as exciting as Lady C’s birthday-suited liaisons in the woods with her lower class lover. Though the production has many strong points, it has some serious flaws.

Besides the over-leisurely pace, the design and set is a major disappointment: black drapes and a grey curtain, a pointless on-stage piano cast members seem to wander on and off at will and the lighting design seems remarkably unambitious. There is little to suggest the two contrasting worlds between haves and have-nots. Bitty, super-short scenes, ungainly props shifting and colourless design all serve to give the production a dull and unfocused look.

The redeeming feature here is the relationship between Lady C, subtly played by Hedydd Dylan and the gamekeeper, an impressive Jonah Russell. They capture the needy relationship as it grows from erotic to tender love.

Though Breen takes chunks out of D H’s philosophical passages thus making the dialogue often sound clunky, the actors build real sexual chemistry out of what begins as awkward, almost teenage, fumbling. The best scene is that resembling a kind of Garden of Eden with a flower-bedecked stage and little floral tributes placed in all sorts of intimate spots on the naked couple. It’s both beautiful, and yes, still rather naughty.