The play ROSS is Terence Rattigan’s bio-drama about English archaeologist, military genius and diplomat T. E. Lawrence. It is bookended with a framing device when Lawrence was hiding under an assumed name as ‘Aircraftman Ross’ in the Royal Air Force in 1922, before flashing back six years under a malaria-induced fever dream to his involvement as a liaison officer in the Arab Revolt against the Turks where he became known internationally as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.
It premiered in 1960 at London’s Theatre Royal, Haymarket with Alec Guinness in the title role, who went on to portray Prince Feisal in the Oscar-winning David Lean epic LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, Steven Spielberg’s favourite film and his inspiration to become a filmmaker.
To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Arabian Revolt, the Chichester Festival Theatre staged a rare revival of ROSS this month, directed by Adrian Noble and featuring Joseph Fiennes, who returned to the stage after seven years to play the British hero, in what many critics called a tour de force, capturing Lawrence’s troubled spirit. Michael Billington in the Guardian wrote, “Fiennes gives an accomplished performance in an elegantly mounted production.”
I sent this sketch of J.F. as T.E. to him at the theatre for signing and he graciously did so.