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INTERVIEW: ‘Is it sex or is it art?’ Sasha A. Miller asks G. Frost about his adaptation of DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover

[Now Showing at the GRV, 37 Guthrie Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JG]

Some of us like a good romp on stage, especially when it denotes a certain freedom beyond ones usual intellectual pursuits. One cannot always live with the mind alone, one must also be alive physically, no? It’s a delight to know I share my sentiment with quite the protagonist, dear Constance. The Edinburgh Festival called, and so I came, as I have done for the last few years. Not so much for the theatre, but for the thrilling performance that my Scottish lover indulges me with. I digress.

The theatre? Now – here is a production that put a sparkle in my eye and caused a modest rouge. Is it sex, or is it art?
Lady C, the new play by Mr. David Garcia at the GRV, has scenes where it's hard to tell the difference. I just had to speak to the director, Mr. Graham Frost.

RR: What was the idea behind the show?

GF: The play's about DH Lawrence's book Lady Chatterley's Lover. When he wrote it, back in the 1920s, he caused himself to be shunned by society. Imagine what it's like to write a masterpiece that'll be talked about a century later and not being able to benefit from it because it's banned from being published. We owe him all our freedoms to make and enjoy art without intervening censorship.

RR: You have a woman playing with herself on stage, one scene of intercourse in a bed, a scene where the actor decorates the pubes of one of the actresses with flowers and plenty of girl-on-girl action. Why so much sex?

GF: Because that's what Lawrence did. His belief was that people are too much in their heads. It was just after the First World War - society was full of pain and broken people, and appearances had to be kept up. For others, rampant industrialisation was turning them into machines. Britain was a reactionary patriarchal society, some would say for good reason. Lawrence wanted to show that people would be happier if they remembered they were physical, animal beings, had feelings and desires, and that it's a false belief to think we are in control of them. So he used the graphic representation of sex as a way to break through to people's inner beings. In this play we tell the story of the book, why what Lawrence did was so extraordinary, and why we owe such a lot to him today.

RR: Is it true the production was put together in only two weeks? You can't tell.

GF: A previous show got cancelled. There was a really nice slot going begging. It needed a show that didn't need to be in the programme to succeed. One with enormous instantaneous appeal. A show that's both sexy and funny, you can't go wrong.

RR: How was it possible?

GF: David Garcia, the writer, understood the premise immediately. He comes from a background of political theatre, as well as long running TV dramas and lots of radio. The first draft was written within just four days. Casting was a tricky business in order to get the right mix between acting ability and sex scene skills, and took three days, simultaneously with the writing. Eventually we were lucky enough to find Jennifer (Healy), Brendan (Riding) and Rebekah (Roe) who are simply fantastic actors and capable of having a sort of animal sexuality on stage.

RR: Presumably it's not to everyone's taste.

GF: When we were auditioning at Spotlight, we said only performers with sex-scene experience need apply. We gave auditioners scripts to look over before coming in. One actress decided it was shocking that the show was about sex, called out at the top of her voice “this is porn!”, crumpled the script into a ball and threw it at the Spotlight staff. We've only just started our Edinburgh run, and of course, with it being a small world, we're looking forward to bumping into her again.

RR: What's the reaction been so far?

GF: It's early days for show. But every day we have people coming up to us and being so passionate about why they like it. Trevor Lock the comedian came along and said “A provocative script, daring performers - a classic fringe experience.”

RR: What's it like directing three naked performers?

GF: You have to make sure there's no draughts and plenty of builders tea.

RR: Thank you Mr. Frost.

And so our brief encounter ended. We dressed and I returned to my lover, without whom I wouldn’t have been in this bonnie city in the first place. I bestow credit upon you my dear Princess… As for you, dear reader, if you’re in Edinburgh I highly recommend this witty and sensual production. It’s a cute little ice-breaker to say the least. In fact, it’s considerably more. Go, flush a little, and embrace the invigoration of the freedom it endows – I promise, you’ll be moved. Personally, I found it rather intoxicating and it left me feeling rather – well, satisfied. I’m heading there tonight.

Lady C is on at the GRV every night at 21.10 – running until Sunday, 29th August.

Entrance (no pun intended dearest): ONLY £5

37 Guthrie Street
Edinburgh, EH1 1JG
Phone: 0131-226 0000

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