REVIEW: Ross at Chichester Festival Theatre
It's not a good sign of a show when the most striking thing about it is the audience.
But this was the situation I found myself in last night when I walked out of the Festival Theatre, slightly bemused by what had just happened.
From the moment the house lights came up and Joseph Fiennes and co. took their bows, the audience erupted into applause, and a few bums lifted off seats in appreciation. Slightly over-zealous I thought, and maybe due to a glass of red or three in the interval.
But to my growing confusion, others joined them and before I knew it I was penned in by critics whooping and hollering like 13-year-old girls at a Justin Bieber concert.
I wasn’t shocked that people enjoyed it – it had all the scenic polish of a CFT production – but rather that they enjoyed it so much. It was like being at a party you weren’t invited to.
So I tried to pinpoint the source of my apathy and realised it was the subject matter: Lawrence of Arabia himself. This was evidently a look at the man behind the legend, and an attempt to immortalise him onstage as a tragic hero of Macbethian proportions.
But when you find the man to be dislikeable and his motivations unbelievable, it’s hard to care why his fellow characters worship him so much, let alone theatregoers.
Although, to give Fiennes credit, his harrowing performance during the rape scene was deserving of recognition – unlike Lawrence’s captor, aka Turkey’s answer to Kenneth Williams.
No doubt this production will get more praise than Meryl Streep in a Mother Teresa biopic, but you can keep your camels Lawrence, Ross, whatever your name is... I’ll stick to the three witches and bloody daggers thanks.