October 15, 2012, by Alex Patterson
Just a Gigolo
A few years ago I wrote a play called EMPTY BED BLUES about D.H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, which centred around the “true” – if somewhat controversial – story that Lady Chatterley’s Lover was inspired by Lawrence’s painful discovery of his wife’s love affair with Angelo Ravagli, their gardener in a rented villa in Italy. The book has been traditionally understood to contain a self-projection of Lawrence in the person of the sexually potent gamekeeper Oliver Mellors. After Lawrence’s death in 1929, Frieda called Angelo to live with her in Taos, New Mexico and he was eventually to become her third husband and, ironically, to inherit all the royalties from the publishing of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. But EMPTY BED BLUES focussed on Lawrence and Frieda and the third person in the “love triangle” was absent. Nobody bothered with the uneducated Italian. They called him a gigolo. I wanted to give voice to him – the forgotten man.
Whilst in Taos, I saw Lawrence’s legendary “obscene” paintings that Angelo had sold to the proprietor and also met one of the few survivors who had tales to tell of the third man and became fascinated by his almost diametrically opposite notion of sexuality and love. In the play as he sells the paintings he comments how Frieda called Lawrence the Quixote of Love and she named him the Sancho Panzas. It also seemed an ideal part for the distinguished actor (and star of The Last of the Mohicans) Maurice Roeves.
Angelo is a funny , charming character struggling to find some kind of honesty and it’s been a pleasure to spend time with him. I hope that’s true for the audience.
‘Just a Gigolo’ will run at Lakeside Arts Centre from 23 – 27 October at 8pm in the Djanogly Theatre. Tickets £15/£12 (£9.50 restricted view) – book online via the Lakeside Arts Centre website.