The List (Fanny Hill)

Fanny Hill

For those of you unaware of the book, Fanny Hill is a scandalous piece of Georgian erotic fiction that falls into the British tradition of bawdiness somewhere between Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones and Joan Collins’ The Stud.

Like Tom Jones, it is an odyssey from innocence and into the high fashion, sophisticated tastes and debauchery of the London of Hogarth and Dr Johnson. The Madames, rakes, fops and sailors of this time are wonderfully evoked and the erotic adventures and encounters of our heroine vividly realised. That Philippa Hammond, in the role of Fanny, can narrate at the same time as simulating a good back-alley rogering is remarkable.

It would be wrong, though, to mistake Fanny Hill for being some sort of cheap thrill theatre. Philippa Hammond, who besides playing the lead is the driving force behind the production, realises the piece in some style. To adapt such a notorious work of fiction as this cannot have been an easy task. But it is one that the ensemble cast uniformly rise to. In this they are aided by an admirable collection of period costumes of West End standard.

This is a genuinely good production. It is adult and includes a good deal of nudity though nothing too explicit; it’s very rude, often funny, but without ever descending into bad taste. Fringe drama doesn’t come any more stimulating than this.

Ross Holloway
The List

The Scotsman

Fanny Hill (The Scotsman)

Fanny Hill

This adaptation of John Cleland’s neglected Georgian masterwork is a hugely enjoyable bawdy romp through one woman’s life and sex life, which for the purposes of the tale appear to be virtually interchangeable.

The eponymous heroine, a naïve country virgin, finds herself all alone in the world with nothing but a bag of second-hand trinkets to her name, when a chance meeting with an old schoolfriend sets her on the path to the big city and a life as a streetwise whore. But Fanny is not wretched at the thought of having to turn tricks to make her way, and in fact fate continually smiles down on this “tart with a heart”: when one brothel door slams in her face another seems courteously to fly open.

The play is packed with erotic adventures of all shapes and sizes nailed by a versatile cast which delights in taking many parts, dropping many breeches and lifting many skirts. It’s deliciously naughty and well worth staying up for.

Jane-Ann Purdy
The Scotsman