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.