As part of the BBC Drama drive, Apple Tree Yard comes to our screens. The Louise Doughty novel it’s adapted from is described as an erotically charged thriller, can Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin bring that spark to the screen?
Watson portrays Dr Yvonne Carmichael, a clever geneticist that starts the episode giving a speech to a bunch of politicians in the House of Commons. When it ends, she gets chatting to Chaplin’s Mark Costley (Dickens-esq naming of characters?), rather than exit, he shows her to a secret area used for functions (even weddings).
In a broom cupboard, they have a good old fashioned quickie. To add a sense of spontaneity, Mark gets the job done with his foot in a mop bucket.
To be fair, at this point it feels charged enough. Had it lived up to the adverts, it would have been a good platform. But then the thriller of the novel becomes a soap opera. We see Yvonne unhappy at home, her husband is probably having an affair, so naturally she goes hunting Costley.
He likes danger sex in public, she just likes him. That’s what turns her on – him. She actually explains this to Mark. By the time he’s throwing another one up in Apple Tree Yard, you really don’t care if her marriage fails, who Mark Costley really is (she thinks he’s a “Spook” for MI6).
We know the story is told retrospectively as we saw the present-day Yvonne handcuffed at the start, so there had to be more to the story than an average looking middle aged woman having indecent sex in public.
Then comes a work’s party, her husband away, and a colleague named George that knows she’s having an affair and uses it as leverage to make a move on her. She rejects and a violent rape scene occurs. Being the BBC, we have to assume they would never use such a delicate subject purely for shock value but it’s misguided allowing it to take place in such a pedestrian and poorly conceived drama.
It gives Yvonne motive for revenge now but it’s distasteful that the BBC would use rape as a cliff-hanger for what’s to come next.
Hopefully the first chapter was an awkward world setting requirement and improvements are inbound.