WOULD you wish your wife or servants to read Lady Chatterley's Lover?" asked a prosecuting counsel in 1960.
The publishers of DH Lawrence's 1928 novel were charged under the long gone and unlamented Obscene Publications Act.
Intellectuals queued to testify to the worth of the book's frank descriptions of sex. And amidst all the sensation, the man in the street tried to buy smuggled-in copies. 'Lady C' led the way to the end of censorship. So 50 years on, what would director Nick Lane of the Hull Truck Theatre make of it?
The answer was an intelligent, insightful and non-sensational look at Lawrence's story, and its underlying themes. The Chatterleys' already passionless marriage becomes permanently so, when Sir Clifford's World War One injuries leave him semi-paralysed and impotent.
They agree she should find a temporary partner to father an heir. But her secret relationship with gamekeeper Oliver Mellors becomes a passionate union of bodies, minds and souls – all of which are essential in Lawrence's view to fully lived lives. Narration, moving into acted out scenes, was shared between Frazer Hammill, Amie Burns Walker and Karl Haynes. A mind-entering device which worked well.
Lawrence's Anglo-Saxon terms and sexual obsessions from a repressed age were retained to a degree, but other facts and character aspects were allowed the light of day.
With good performances, an empathetic set by Graham Kirk and mood-moving music by Tristan Parkes, the Hull Truck Company entertainingly opened out a novel which, although flawed, deserves better than sensational status.