Not: Lady Chatterley's Lover

Wed 9th – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

Helena Snider

at 13:30 on 25th Aug 2017

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A perceptive and comic parody, ‘Not: Lady Chatterley's Lover’ follows the storyline of DH Lawrence’s famous novel. Lord Clifford Chatterley comes home from war with an injury that severed his legs. Post-accident, he had his legs removed and replaced with a woman’s. Constance (Lady Chatterley), a comically flustered and self-absorbed woman – feeling slighted by her husband’s affections to his nurse -falls into a passionate affair with estate gamekeeper Mellors.

DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover was one of the most controversial books when it was first published, and was banned until 1963. Staying true to the themes of Lawrence’s novel, this play from new production company is subversive and witty.

That being said, it’s true that this adaptation fails to shock in the same way its source material no doubt did upon its release. But the constant tongue-in-cheek and breaking of the fourth wall does add an impressive element of comic surprise. It’s a hilarious watch, constantly charming, engaging and remains true to the spirit of Lawrence’s work. Detail is certainly missed, but the more important aspects of the story are conveyed well. As literary adaptations go, this is one of the best you could wish to see.

The comic acting was the highlight. All of the performers are excellent – so good that it is difficult to single any one out, though Amy Millns was the most versatile, swinging from upset and hurt wife, to passionate lover, back to humiliated wife and so on and so forth. She plays for laughs, but evokes sympathy in equal measure, striking just the right balance between humour and heartache. Lord Chatterley (Lawrence Russell, who also adapted the novel) was similarly charismatic, as were Rebecca McClay and Wesley Griffith.

The precision is animating; it stands out from other shows I have seen this Fringe as markedly professional. Saying this, the rather bleak and bare set probably could do with greater decoration to match the level of energy and excitement present elsewhere in the production.

Ultimately, it is difficult to fault the performance and production. All in all, this is a literary adaptation well worth the watch.

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Emily Lawford

at 13:47 on 27th Aug 2017

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Happy Idiot’s new play, ‘Not: Lady Chatterley’s lover’ follows the plot of DH Lawrence’s novel, with some farcical twists. Lady Constance Chatterley is our heroine, trapped in a marriage with Lord Clifford who returns home from war with his legs amputated – and the legs of a French dancer attached. Unable now to produce an heir, Lord Clifford informs his wife that she must take a lover to replace him. But unknown to him, Constance falls for Mellors, the tall and rugged gamekeeper of their estate.

The play is entirely absurd. Moments that in Lawrence’s prose are erotic and dramatic are transformed into sheer farce, which on the whole works very well. The sex scenes are experimental and entirely comical and Lady Constance’s trauma is told entirely tongue-in-cheek.

Lord Clifford and his possible romance with his servant are also told in ironic asides and many self-referential moments which break the fourth wall. At one point Mellors quotes an especially strange line from the book and informs us that yes, Lawrence really wrote that, this is not part of the parody. The play exposes the strangeness in Lawrence’s writing, and yet, also at times gives us moments of tenderness that despite the irony we can still feel sympathy for.

The pace is watertight and the comic timing is perfect. The four actors have a good chemistry with each other and work well switching between characters – one actor even managed to play a whole scene cross-eyed to play one of the local villagers. The whole premise is bizarre, and I didn’t expect to say this, but it really works, and it’s definitely worth a ticket whether or not you’re a fan of Lawrence’s passionate novels.

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