The last thing gay theatre needs, one might suppose, is another story about a young man struggling with his attraction to men before settling into life fully reconciled with his homosexuality. But EM Forster’s 1914 novel, shocking even when first published in 1971, still has something to say about the importance of loyalty to oneself over any conventions of class, family, religion or society.
Adam Lilley (Maurice) and Rob Stott (Durham) in Maurice at Above the Stag theatre
Roger Parsley and Andy Graham’s new stage adaptation is perhaps a little too faithful, choosing to play out Maurice Hall’s sexual awakening through a series of staccato scenes. This leads to the first act lacking any real momentum, a dangerous quality in a production that is just under three hours in length.
Thankfully, director Tim McArthur and an able cast work their hardest to bring life into the script, finding new wit and nuance to appeal to a 2010 audience, while remaining faithful to a novel written nearly a century ago.
As moustachioed hypnotist Mr Lasker Jones, Jonathan Hansler threatens at times to turn the production into one of melodramatic pastiche, but it adds a levity that helps propel the second act forward. He is helped in this endeavour by Persia Lawson as Ada, able to wring comedy from awkward silence.
But it is the central role of Maurice which must carry the production, and Adam Lilley succeeds admirably. The progression of a socially and sexually unaware 14 year old arriving, via a confused adolescence, at contented homosexual adulthood is played with delicacy and care.
_Reviewed for [The Stage](http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/27429/maurice)_
Above the Stag, London, March 2-28
Author: EM Forster, adapted by Roger Parsley and Andy Graham
Director: Tim McArthur
Producer: Peter Bull for Above the Stag
Cast includes: Adam Lilley, Rob Stott, Leanne Masterson, Jonathan Hansler, Persia Lawson, Stevie Raine
Running time: 2hrs 50mins