The Blue Room is author David Hare's adoption of Arthur Schnitzler's controversial work, Der Reigen. More commonly known today by its film title, La Ronde.
Originally written in 1900, it was privately printed for a handful of friends and was never intended by Schnitzler to be staged. When it was performed in public in 1920, Schnitzler was charged with obscenity (but acquitted).
Just the list of scenes will give you a flavour of why it's proved so controversial: The student and the married woman, the married woman and the politician, the politician and the model... You get the idea. The play follows daisychain-like, the series of sexual encounters with the words bringing the couple's views - and society's views - on sex into sharp focus.
The play is already over 111 years old but since it deals with the eternal themes of love, sex, monogamy, affairs and so forth there's no reason to suppose it won't still be performed for another 111 years or 1,111 years. The play enables each age to think more about its morals and attitudes.
Perhaps The Blue Room tells us that our age, our society, no longer finders many of these relationships so shocking (a politican having a stable relationship with his wife is perhaps more surprisingthan him having an affair with a model). Hare wrote The Blue Room in 1998 so it's perhaps surprising he didn't extend the sexual melting pot (as others have done) to include gay sex, underage sex or other taboos.
The power in this production comes from the performances by just three actors: Matt Addis, Polly Lister and Olivia Mace. It's hard at times to believe there are only three actors as they take on the variety of roles demanded by the play. I'm sure more than one member of the cast glanced again and again at the programme to double-check just how many actors were involved.
This performance is in the studio at Keswick Theatre and that adds to the voyeuristic nature the audience feels at watching close-up these sexual trysts. Subtle lighting adds to the intimacy while director Ian Forrest ensures the characters and what they have to say remain centre stage.
The Blue Room is being staged at Keswick's Theater by the Lake until November 9. Phone box office: 017687 74411 or visit www.theatrebythelake.co.uk. Please note this production includes strong language, adult themes, nudity and scenes of a sexual nature.