REVIEW: A Room with a View at Chichester Festival Theatre

It is telling that the single scene which drove the biggest applause and audience response was the one in which three male members of the cast strip naked and bathe in the lake.

A Room With A View
A Room With A View

It was a diversion which revived an otherwise soporific production.

At the same time, it highlighted the contradictions within this interpretation of EM Forster’s classic 1908 novel.

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Was this serious drama, comedy or parody? Were we to take seriously the characters or were they caricatures of themselves?

The simple sets had none of the advantage of the sweeping Merchant-Ivory film which enjoyed spectacular Italian scenic shots to give it perspective.

Nor could it ever quite capture Forster’s spectacular literary style of sketching a young woman’s sensual awakening and rebellion within the socially constipated Edwardian era.

It must be said that Lauren Coe is supremely accomplished as Lucy Honeychurch as she asserts her independence with grace and courage.

And Tom Morley captures with sophisticated understatement the qualities of George Emerson, the young man who wins her heart.

It is always a huge treat to see the wonderful Felicity Kendal on the Chichester stage, this time as the overbearing cousin who accompanies Lucy to Italy.

But this is a production which seems still uncertain of what should define it; until it does some fleeting nudity in the second act will remain its most memorable scene.