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The original 50 Shades - Lady Chatterley’s Lover at The Orchard, Dartford

PUBLISHED: 13:23 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:23 17 February 2020

Rupert Hill and Phoebe Marshall in Lady Chatterley's Lover. Picture: Matt Austin

Rupert Hill and Phoebe Marshall in Lady Chatterley's Lover. Picture: Matt Austin

Matt Austin

It’s the classic tale of forbidden love, and sex, and now it is coming to The Orchard Theatre, Dartford from Thursday, February 20 until Saturday, February 22.

Lady Chatterley opens at The Orchard on February 20. Picture: Matt AustinLady Chatterley opens at The Orchard on February 20. Picture: Matt Austin

Lady Chatterley's Lover was banned for a while by a shocked population unable to handle the idea of two people at opposite ends of the class system falling for each other.

The lady of the title finds more than a little passion when she pops in to her potting shed. There, inside is her gamekeeper who is a little more game than most.

He is played by actor Rupert Hill, with Phoebe Marshall as the naughty Lady.

While society has became a shade more grey in what we see as suitable for entertainment, Rupert said he couldn't wait to get his teeth into the role.

Lady Chatterley opens at The Orchard on February 20. Picture: Matt AustinLady Chatterley opens at The Orchard on February 20. Picture: Matt Austin

He admits: "I knew very little about the book to be honest. I'm ashamed to say that I think I'd kind of dismissed it as a 50 Shades of the 1920s.

"But I read the script and I thought it was stunning. Very theatrical and immersive and this really excited me. So much so that prior to my audition I decided to prioritise reading the book, over learning my lines. A risky strategy but it paid off.

"The book is without a doubt a new favourite of mine. It's without question a masterpiece, way ahead of its time and devastatingly relevant. To describe it as an erotic novel would be a woeful misunderstanding.

"It's a philosophical book about truly being alive and in love. I'm so enthralled that I'm going to be involved in a new retelling."

Rupert Hill and Phoebe Marshall in Lady Chatterley's Lover. Picture: Matt AustinRupert Hill and Phoebe Marshall in Lady Chatterley's Lover. Picture: Matt Austin

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The more laid back Italians had seen DH Lawrence's last novel in the 1920s and while enjoying it, nothing more happened.

It was only when it arrived in a far more prudent British society that publishers Penguin Books fell foul of the Obscene Publications Act and the case went to court in 1960. It was eventually cleared of being obscene and sales began. It also opened the door to a string of equally erotic writings.

Rupert said: "I read up about the trial. The book is very explicit but it amuses me that the very people who sought to have the book banned were also the target of its ridicule.

"The bourgeois and arrogant position of dictating what people can or can't say in their creative pursuits. So stuffy and boring and meanwhile they completely failed to see what a beautiful and progressive love letter to nature Lawrence had written. Life imitated art here quite profoundly.

"The book is a beautiful and life affirming piece of work.

"It asks of us to transcend the tedious trappings of class and social status and seek a higher state of mutual wellbeing through openness and human contact and love. It's a meditative, cathartic journey and I felt utterly joyous after completing the book. I hope we can create something intense, challenging, raw and ultimately life affirming for our audiences. And also I hope they absolutely love it and tell all their friends."

The Coronation Street star added: "It is utterly absurd that in 2019 we are still discussing female equality in society. Whether it's their continued sexual exploitation in various guises, a pay gap deficit still apparent pretty much across the board or the lack of female political leadership across the planet, this battle is still being fought.

"Powerful men seem so cocksure that their vision of the world and the human condition is the correct analysis and what Lawrence does is to drown out and quieten those voices and he raises the volume of the female protagonist.

"We hear her desires, hopes and beliefs and they contradict starkly with that of her husband's and his stifling high society."

Rupert said: "One of the major reasons for leaving the Street was because I missed doing theatre.

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