At the Hampstead Theatre
26th May, 2016
‘It has to have been real. Because of the pain.’
‘Lawrence after Arabia’ is the latest in Brenton’s sequence of history plays whose subjects have ranged from St Paul to Anne Boleyn and Oliver Cromwell to Harold Macmillan. Set in 1923 and mostly taking place in the Hertfordshire home of the Bernard Shaw, a haunted T. E. Lawrence, unsettled by his fame and desperate for anonymity, has just joined the RAF under an assumed name. When the news breaks, it causes a scandal for the British establishment. ‘You can’t have an officer and a gentlemen cleaning lavatories,’ is the rebuff from William Chubb’s stiff-upper- lipped,Field Marshall Allenby – Lawrence’s former commander. At the same time, Lawrence is obsessed with the telling of his story, editing and rewriting ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ with the help of Shaw’s wife Charlotte (Geraldine James).