NO romps in the greenwood amid beds of bluebells or even a hint of upper class opulence, this is indeed a stripped down – no pun intended – version of the D H Lawrence classic.
Tilted Wig Productions have bravely broken with recent tradition and avoided the usual obligatory flesh fest to produce a distinctly thoughtful interpretation of the play.
The last time Lady C was staged at Malvern a few years ago, it was explicit in the extreme.
Sadly, this may provide a clue as to why the first night was sparsely attended. It would seem that there are only so many viewings of body bits that Worcestershire people can take.
But please, don’t be put off. This is, without doubt, a dramatic departure from the usual athletics served up by her ladyship and the randy gamekeeper, and for that this company deserves praise.
For adaptor and director Ciaran McConville correctly identifies the defining cause of the unfolding tragedy – the still-spreading bloody stain of the First World War.
Designer Katie Lias’ trenches, with their barbed wire and revetments as tight as corset stays, loom large throughout. This imagery overshadows everything, whether it’s the Chatterley mansion or Oliver Mellors’ hut where the lovers meet.
Meanwhile, crippled veteran Chatterley exchanges the murdered Nature of the Western Front for the desolation and ruination of the natural world that is his Nottinghamshire coalfield.
All the protagonists are caught in traps, either in the form of disability, class distinction, or cruelly thwarted motherhood.
The setting does indeed compliment the work of a talented cast, in particular Phoebe Marshall’s moving portrayal of Lady Chatterley and Rupert Hill’s Oliver Mellors, a man whose working class brusqueness never quite conceals his innate tenderness.
Mark Hawkins, as the wretched Clifford Chatterley, builds the desperation of his character with the slow burn skill of a fuse that will eventually produce an explosion the equal of any that he endured in France and Flanders.
And all the while, lighting designer Peter Small works well with Eamonn O’Dwyer’s haunting music to emphasise the continuing tragedy.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover runs until Saturday (February 29) and is well worth a visit.