Lawrence After Arabia, Hampstead Theatre, London. April 2016.
On a lovely sunny, if not warm, evening Rebecca and I went out to Hampstead to see only the second performance ever of this play. Apart from the (in)famous film Lawrence of Arabia I didn't know an awful lot about the eponymous Lawrence and so I was hoping for a play that would add more to my knowledge while being enjoyable.
I got just what I wanted, and more.
The play is set in the early 1920s as Lawrence is hiding from the press after joining the RAF incognito. His hiding place is with George Bernard Shaw and his wife who are also helping him to edit his memoirs.
We are also treated to some flashbacks to Lawrence's time in Arabia during the war and how he worked with both the Arabs and the Allies during World War One. The story telling was clear, the actors brilliant and although there were some modern political messages within the play they weren't added with a crowbar, they felt like things the characters at the time would have said.
The last play by Howard Brenton that we saw, Doctor Scroggy's War, had a good premise but was muddled and felt like three plays mixed into one, but this was clean and informative. I don't think that it is going to set anyone on fire but I now want to know more about Lawrence and the Shaws and have a stack of new books next to my bed ready to read. I think that this play might end up in my 2016 Top Ten.
Jack Laksey as Lawrence (photo from Hampstead website)