STAGE REVIEW: Lady Chatterley’s Lover at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Tuesday, February 25 to, Saturday, February 29, 2020.

THERE was a time, some 60 years ago, when this story of an illicit and passionate liaison stoked up such moral outrage it became the subject of a court case that created world-wide interest.

Many felt it crude and should be banned. But Lawrence’s work eventually won the day.

It was considered sensationalist erotica when first published and banned, his text creating offence not just because of the explicit language, but also because it bridged social and class divides. Since then it ha become regarded as a masterpiece. How times and tastes have changed.

Now, in this new adaptation from director Ciaran McConville, it would hardly force an eyelid to bat or even twitch a touch in horror.

Designer Katie Lias maintains a link throughout this stage offering with a First World War trench where Lady C’s husband, Clifford, was badly maimed.

It was a trench of death and desolation, as were many, and this one is watched over by a trio of ethereal beings who become eavesdroppers and peeping toms as Lady C secretly engages with the estate’s gamkeeper, Oliver Mellors, who also served in the war.

Part of a UK tour from the Tilted Wig Company it unfortunately lacks pace and slowly peters out in spite of fine performances from TV regular Rupert Hill (Mellors), Mark Hawkins (Clifford) and Phoebe Marshall (Lady C).

A complex story about relationships and psychological scars it seems to provide too much of a challenge to convey all complexities.

It’s not exactly helped by the constant backdrop of the trench and the reliance on a sparsely furnished set to create change.

The production copes will with the futility of war, moments of tenderness and the highly charged emotions of relationship breakdowns but it could have created so much more with more character exploration. Short-changed here and with a lack of overall pace.

Disappointing and in need of a touch more pep.