Lady Chatterley’s Lover - Hiding the naked truth from my parents!

Jonah Russell in rehearsals for Lady Chatterley's Lover
Jonah Russell in rehearsals for Lady Chatterley's Lover

It’s fair to say that actor Jonah Russell isn’t too keen to be baring his all on stage at the Crucible for his role as gamekeeper Mellors in Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

In fact, the Sheffield-born lad has banned his parents from seeing the show!

The play is based on DH Lawrence’s once-controversial novel that was banned for 30 years. It tells the story of a cross-class love affair between Oliver Mellors and lady of the manor Constance Chatterley.

Jonah said: “When I got sent the script, I thought I hope it isn’t going to be pornographic. But it’s what’s essential and it’s really beautifully written.

“You get to see the story of Lady Chatterley, her husband and Mellors just evolve.

“All the characters are beautifully drawn and it’s such a strong company right across the board. It’s really exciting to be in a rehearsal room like that.”

He added: “I’ve banned mum and dad from coming to see it. It will make me uncomfortable.

“They said, ‘we’ve seen you naked’ and I said, ‘That was when I was a baby’. I’ve banned them but I don’t know if they’ll break the embargo!”

Jonah said that the nude scene is “a really, really intimate, beautiful moment when it happens. You couldn’t tell this story without it.

“It’s about a meeting of minds, hearts bodies, souls – everything.””

The show’s director Phillip Breen has adapted the novel for the stage and Jonah said that all the characters are very true to what Lawrence wrote originally.

He said: “He’s a great part to play, there’s so much going on. Everything that’s happened in his life to that point has made him who he is.

“He’s chosen to be a gamekeeper to isolate himself because he wants to be by himself, then this person comes into his life that, however much he tries to resist, he can’t help himself.

“He almost knows beforehand what’s going to happen and what the consequences are going to be.”

Jonah is pleased to be back in the city where he was born but left at the age of two when his parents moved from Chapeltown to Nottingham.

He said: “About the only thing I can remember is going to Redgate’s toy shop and the train going round, so that must have been later when we came to visit.”

He is thrilled to be performing in a DH Lawrence adaptation for the first time because of the writer’s strong connections to the city. It also means that he hasn’t had to master a different accent!

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is at the Crucible from next Thursday to October 15. Box office: call 0114 249 6000 or go online at Sheffield Theatres