Review: Not Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by Lawrence Russell, Avenue Theatre, Ipswich, May 25

Leonie Spillsbury and Lawrence Russell in Not Lady Chatterley�s Lover by new theatre company Happy I

Leonie Spillsbury and Lawrence Russell in Not Lady Chatterley�s Lover by new theatre company Happy Idiots. Picture: WILL AUSTIN - Credit: Archant

Happy Idiots, a new company headed up by Red Rose Chain regular Lawrence Russell presents double entendres galore in this part satire, part carry on esque reworking of DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s lover at the Avenue Theatre

Leonie Spillsbury and Lawrence Russell in Not Lady Chatterley�s Lover by new theatre company Happy I

Leonie Spillsbury and Lawrence Russell in Not Lady Chatterley�s Lover by new theatre company Happy Idiots. Picture: WILL AUSTIN - Credit: Archant

This is not a Red Rose Chain show, but part of the company’s desire to support new work especially from those that have worked with the company.

The show itself is getting ready for Edinburgh and it is evident here, with bare stage and minimal props. However, the large salami downstage right as we enter sets the tone appropriately and no innuendo is left un mined as Lady Chatterley first tries to make her marriage work to her paralysed World War 1 hero husband played by Lawrence Russell, whose injuries are not quite what you think. Then, as she begins her torrid affair with Mellors, the game keeper, over-ripe and at times over-done jokes about buds and berries fall from the proverbial tree in abundance. Leonie Spillsbury, last seen in Red Rose Chain’s Importance of Being Ernest, is particularly good as Lady Chatterley, her timing and delivery giving the show a real warmth.

The overall pace is crisp, especially for a first performance. The script is hilariously surreal in places, but doesn’t lose its satirical edge as the show parodies the novel and the place it has in the popular imagination. However in the midst of the relentless sex gags there are genuine moments of pathos which surprisingly do work making it all comes across as sort of X Rated Downton Abbey . Although it has to be noted that one of the visual gags around Mellor’s shorts in particular leaves, I suggest, far too little to the imagination. I found myself as distracted as Lady C.

Jackie Montague

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