A triangle of love and despair - Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Eugene O'Hara in LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER, Crucible Theatre
Eugene O'Hara in LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER, Crucible Theatre
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Actor Eugene O’Hare is playing the third point in 
an eternal triangle in a new adaptation of Lady 
Chatterley’s Lover.

Eugene, pictured right, co-stars in the show at the Crucible as Sir Clifford Chatterley.

The book is set in the years following World War One.

Sir Clifford has a large country estate and money coming in from a pit on his land but the one thing he 
really wants is a son to carry on his name.

He can’t father children himself because of war injuries that have also left him in a wheelchair, so he comes up with what most would regard as a shocking proposal to his wife.

Have an affair, get pregnant and we’ll bring up your son together, just as if he’s mine as well.

What the aristocrat doesn’t bank on is that, rather than having a fling with another member of the upper classes while on a trip to Venice, she instead falls deeply in love with Oliver Mellors, who works for him as the gamekeeper on his estate.

The book’s frank portrayal of sex and use of bad language got it banned under obscenity laws for more than 30 years, before a famous trial finally lifted the ban in 1960.

Other TV and film adaptations have shown Sir Clifford as a fairly one-dimensional character but Eugene said that he is “not so ‘one note’ as people might think”.

He added: “It’s easy to play him as a stiff old master.

“He is a disparate character and full of emotional dimensions.

“That moment, it’s shocking when he suggests it to her. It is so beautifully written and comes out of nowhere.

“He’s talking about the land and moves it from this land of his to the family name and his need for a son.

“His control starts to go. That’s when you really start to feel for him.

“The desperation of wanting to continue the family name – he’s trying to keep things together and keep the old things alive.

“It means so much to him.

“Every time his wife looks at him, everything from the waist down doesn’t work. He’s desperately sad about that.

“The situation pushes him to such an extreme. He has an obsession with the trees around his house and it’s so difficult for him to explore them.

“They grow and completely surround him and block everything else out.

“He says, ‘let’s keep it all in the family’.”

Eugene has been working with the show’s director and writer Phillip Breen for 16 years now.

He said: “We have a shorthand. I know when he needs to get something from me at a certain point in rehearsals.

“I work as quickly as he does if I can.”

Speaking of working quickly, you might want to admire Eugene’s driving skills as he manoeuvres an early motorised wheelchair.

Going down the ramp to exit the stage looked just a little hair-raising on occasion…

n Lady Chatterley’s Lover is at the Crucible until Saturday. Box office: call 0114 249 6000 or go online at Sheffield Theatres