Written for Whatsonstage.com
This is the second run Roger Parsley‘s adaptation of EM Forster’s Maurice has had at Above the Stag, and it’s easy to see why. Adam Lilley‘s honest and intricate portrayal of Maurice Hall, a young man sheltered from sexuality by his restrictive feminine upbringing, provides this play with an engrossing emotional core.
Tim McArthur‘s production demonstrates an intimate knowledge of and fondness for Forster’s work, and it flourishes in its detail. Incorporating studied Forsterian nuances such as the use of an umbrella as a veiled symbol of homosexuality, Maurice is awash with euphemisms both crass and clever.
Adam Lilley strikes a fine balance between sexual swagger and shamefulness, and the thinly veiled eroticism of his playfights with his Cambridge contemporary and first-love Clive Durham is a careful mix of abundance and restraint. The female characters have a hard time playing second fiddle in this male-centric plotline, but they do so admirably well. Both Maurice’s sister and Durham’s wife Ann are particularly grating – but intentionally so. This stage adaptation of Maurice sensitively and sagaciously realises what was only ever a dimly-lit fantasy for Forster.