THEATRE – Ross – Independent Theatre – The Space – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

Before T.E. Lawrence saw opportunities to change the course of Arab history as well as that of World War I, he was a humble administrative officer assigned in Cairo. After heroically looking to construct a new world order amongst the Arabs he once more sought the anonymity of whence he had started. Sadly the failings of less substantial beings thwarted both these ambitions giving rise to a somewhat tortured existence.

Terence Rattigan’s play takes us up Lawrence’s mountain of achievements and then down the other side. Rob Croser’s exploration, led on stage again by the talented Will Cox, sticks to the more military aspects of that story and eschews the issues around his sexual proclivities that so much dominate the program’s notes and the prior existing reputation of the play. While Cox reaches a high point in the show in the aftermath of his beating, perhaps staying away from more of that side of the story has made the whole seem a little pedestrian, especially given its length (at three hours.)

Amongst the various bit roles against whom Cox struts his stuff Jett Zivkovic’s betraying Aircraftman Dickinson, the considered force and menace of Matthew Hein’s Auda Abu Tayi and the bombast of David Roach’s General Sir Edmund Allenby were the highlights in the substantial all-male cast.

Once again Croser and Roach’s set design is quite en pointe and together with Chris Petridis’ lighting they skilfully take us seamlessly from England to Egypt and back again without a grain of sand being spread.

Ross is an ambitious production from Adelaide premier theatre group that perhaps indicates that there are limits to what even this team can deliver with its usual high grade impact

Kryztoff Rating  3.5K

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