Reviewed by Allison Thomas
Historical theatre plays are often dry, but playwright, Terence Rattigan’s interpretation of the enigmatic and charismatic T.E. Lawrence’s story was brilliantly portrayed in Ross: the lives of Lawrence of Arabia. The Australian premiere by Rob Croser and Independent Theatre was a stunning, well-presented production.
The simple, but effective, set design by David Roach and Rob Croser made an effective segway from the rigid, controlled RAF base to the smooth clean open desert. I especially appreciated Peter Coad’s desert curtain, which became an Arabian/Bedouin tent.
Chris Petridis’ lighting effects highlighted scenes “behind the veil” and divided the stage into different areas of attention. The Convent Garden “ringmaster style” slide show was very enlightening, with photos of real people involved.
All the male cast were brilliant and are to be complimented for their acting skills. Accents were well maintained – British, Arabian and Turkish each signifying their ethnicity. In particular Will Cox immersed himself in the brilliant but tortured character of Lawrence and gave an outstanding performance. Others to note were David Roach as General Sir Edmund Allenby, Andre Vafiadis as Rashid, Matthew Hein as Auda Abu Tayi and Jett Zivkoic as Dickinson.
Military costumes by Ken Kurtz were neat, tidy and looked highly polished, contrasting with flowing Arabian robes and head-dresses.
In preparation for this event and my review, I am grateful that I watched David Lean’s movie this week, which helped me understand some of the innuendos behind the play. And I’ve never seen a bigger program – giving lots of background about the mystery of Lawrence – man and myth – to read afterwards. The only thing I missed were the camels!
If you enjoyed the movie Lawrence of Arabia, go and see Ross for a different view of T.E. Lawrence!
Will Cox as Ross (Photo by Jacqui Munn)