It’s a century since Tom Lawrence’s’s derring-do in the desert during the Arab Revolt earned him the moniker of Lawrence of Arabia and the occasion has already been marked with Howard Brenton’s Lawrence After Arabia at Hampstead Theatre.
Next week Joseph Fiennes takes on the role in Terence Rattigan’s probing drama, Ross, at Chichester Festival Theatre
Fiennes leads a weighty cast which includes Michael Feast, Paul Freeman and Peter Polycarpou for the production which begins its run from Friday and officially opens June 9.
Joseph Fiennes plays the title role in Ross, directed by Adrian Noble, making his Chichester debut.
Other casting includes: Navinder Bhatti, Jorell Coiffic-Kamall, Ian Drysdale, Eben Figueiredo, Brendan Hooper, John Hopkins, Nicholas Prasad, Jay Saighal, Nick Sampson, Peter Sandys-Clarke, Gary Shelford, Benjamin Wainwright, Christopher Walters and Rick Yale.
Arrogant, flippant, withdrawn – and with a talent for self-concealment – Aircraftman Ross seems an odd recruit for the Royal Air Force. Behind the false name is an enigma, a man who started as a civilian in the Map Office in 1914.
Despite never receiving an official commission, he went on to mastermind some of the most audacious military victories in the history of the British Army, including the 1916 Arab Revolt against the Turks. These victories earned him an enduring and romantic nom de guerre: Lawrence of Arabia.
Terence Rattigan’s 1960 play is an epic and probing drama which reveals the deeply conflicted Englishman behind the heroic legend.
Ross runs at the Festival Theatre from June 3-25
*War on a different front. Phil Davis, Tom Gill and David Moorst lead the cast in the première of Mark Hayhurst’s new WWI play First Light which play’s in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre from June 10.
Directed by Jonathan Munby, the cast also includes Amelda Brown, Philip Cumbus, Alex Jordan, Niall McNamee, Sam Phillips, Tim Preston, Kelly Price, Ed Sayer, Freddie Watkins, Andrew Westfield and Andrew Woodall.
Set in July 1916, Albert Ingham and Alfred Longshaw, two sharp and funny young soldiers from a battalion of the Manchester Pals, are about to take part in one of the most savage assaults in the history of human warfare, the Battle of the Somme.
Overwhelmed by the sheer horror of what they have already experienced, neither of them dare stare extinction in the face again.
So, when they are ordered to return to the blood-soaked front line, they take their fragile destiny in their own hands. But becoming a deserter takes more courage than they ever knew they had.
Mark Hayhurst’s new play is staged in the centenary year of the Battle of the Somme, and exposes the impact of the First World War on soldiers and their families.
It follows his acclaimed Chichester début with Taken at Midnight which transferred to the West End last year.
First Light runs from June 10 July 2.
*Full casting has been announced for Alistair Beaton’s new black comedy Fracked! Or: Please Don’t Use the F-Word, directed by Richard Wilson, which moves into the Minerva Theatre from July 8–August 6.
James Bolam and Anne Reid are joined by Oliver Chris, Vanessa Emme, Andrea Hart, Freddie Meredith, Sam Otto, Steven Roberts, Michael Simkins and Tristram Wymark.