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“A woman has to live her life or live to repent no having lived it”
DH Lawrence (Lady Chatterley’s Lover)
Lady Chatterley’s LoverCustoms House
13th April 2011
Adapted and Directed by Nick Lane
For anyone who hasn't read the novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover tells the story of a young, married woman in a sexless marriage with a husband paralysed from the hips down during World War One. She wants a child and her husband doesn't mind who the father is. But her affair with gamekeeper Mellors has an unforeseen side: the couple fall in love. As their passionate love affair reaches its climax, the constraints of Constance's class-led society are broken down as the two lovers find fulfilment with each other.
Written in 1925, D.H. Lawrence’s controversial work was banned from sale until 1960 for its frank and explicit depiction of sex and its portrayal of a passionate and adulterous love affair. This work deals with sexual taboos, years ahead of its time that are still present in today’s society.
Most of us were are going to check out "Lady Chatterley's Lover" at the Customs House in the hopes of seeing something steamy. I'm happy to report that the production appeals to the libido as much as it does the intellect. The Hull Truck Theatre’s splendid production of "Lady Chatterley's Lover" brings out these aspects under the direction of Nick Lane stunningly! The love scenes between Constance Chatterley (Annie Burns Walker) and Oliver Mellors (Karl Haynes) pulsate with lushness, heat and awakening senses.
Although Clifford (Frazer Hammill) is portrayed from the start as something of a cold fish, he actually lives in the mind because his body failed him. Without hope of either an heir or sexual intimacy with his wife, Clifford chooses an intellectual chumminess with Connie, a complete and utter devotion to ideas and upper-class mores. Frazer Hammill's performance was simply enthralling. Even though having him doubling as narrator makes his role a little cumbersome at times.
The look of Lady Chatterley is perfectly in tune with , Amie Burns Walker who fits Lawrence’s description of a very sweet country girl - flawlessly. As soon as she enters the stage the audience were enveloped by her presence. Connie grows bored with life, she knows there has to be something else beyond words, beyond talk and duty. The pretty Chatterley takes to wandering the grounds and one excursion leads to the hut of gamekeeper Oliver Mellors, who displays an aching tenderness towards her. It was from here their love affair and sexual fulfilment began. Their sexual encounters in his workplace - fully clothed but rather explicit- are portrayed sensitively. There is no denying that the lovers are convincing and comfortable both in their own skin and with one another’s - brilliant performance given by both.
Karl Haynes who plays Mellors projects a Derbyshire accent without fault. He acts out very well the working-class hero who arouses the vitality of Lady Constance Chatterley. He cleverly projected an abundance of four-letter words which heightened the audience’s engagement in being shocked.
Walker, Hammill and Haynes who take on other parts in the play, create a perfectly balanced chemistry of electricity to keep the audience enthralled. The actors slip from one scene to another with ease and quick change of characters are done effortlessly.
The stage set resembling the pages of a book are done with an expertise. On the left is an area representing Mellors' cottage in the woods, with bird boxes and tools around; on the right is the Chatterley’s' sitting room with a table, chairs and a carpet. Scattered all around the stage - brilliantly positioned are items portraying past memories. The lighting complements the stage set creating a glowing warmth and sexual ambience.
Nick Lane the director has adapted this D H Lawrence classic beautifully! It contains strong language but so skilfully done that integrity and wholeness has been kept. Nicks adaption to the original, borrowing passages to both set the scene and give a taste of Lawrence’s language has to be highly commended.
A much needed applause from the Customs House was given for this ‘erotically charged and psychologically powerful’ production. A highly entertaining evening had by all!!!
Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a beautiful love story. It moved me a lot, and I don’t think I could have loved it more. And because of the play I’ve already ordered a copy of the book!!!
I wish the Hull Truck Theatre Company every success with their UK tour which is running till the end of May. Check out their website for forthcoming productions.