STARRING: Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Felicity Jones

Say ahhh: Sheridan Smith and Dancy

In the 1880 Britain of leeches and blood-letting, medical ignorance is all-pervasive. As a believer in basic hygiene, Dr Mortimer Granville (Dancy) has been sidelined employment-wise and is profoundly grateful for the peculiar role he is finally offered in the practice of female “hysteria” specialist Dr Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce).


Hysteria being a Victorian synonym for sexual frustration, Dr D has hit on a winner with his strictly clinical, doctor–patient lady-parts massage treatment. Aided by his ingenious friend Edmund (Rupert Everett), Granville takes that one big step further, however, with the invention of “electro-vibratory massage therapy,” aka the vibrator. And by the way, the entire she-bang is based on actual events. “Really.”


Keeping time with the decorously saucy main attraction is the secondary theme of Granville’s attraction to Dalrymple’s fiery daughter Charlotte (Gyllenhaal), plainly his ideal match despite his engagement to her modest younger sister (Jones). 

Director Tanya Wexler dances deftly through this merry fare, her multi-orgasmic English hoot knowingly sparkled with Gyllenhaal’s crackling, pre-feminist defiance and anchored by Dancy’s modulated poise. Really.