The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings






Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants









Free Updates
Writing for Us

A CurtainUp Review

By Betsy Winchester
You should not always confuse what I say with what I do. — Lawrence
Peter Dobbins (bottom) & Josh Vasquez (Photo: Kelleigh Miller)
The Storm Theatre's production of Ross: A Dramatic Portrait is notably ambitious. With a cast of 21 on a big billowy set and a 3 hour playing time, director Stephen Logan Day takes on this complex play by Terrence Rattigan in which Lawrence of Arabia, seeking anonymity as Aircraftsman Ross in the RAF, recalls his past during a night of malaria-induced fever.

T.E. Lawrence's life is quite rightly the subject of awe and scrutiny for his involvement as British Military liaison to the Arab Revolt during the First World War. But his subsequent withdrawal from the public eye is perhaps what is most fascinating. That period is what bookends Rattigan's play and is more intriguing in this production than the bulk of the piece which reflects on his time spent abroad.

Though timely in subject and interesting in scope, the first hurdle to be jumped is Rattigan's sometimes pat dialogue which lends itself to being overly dear, as in ". . .I'm afraid you've got it wrong. It was just that-suddenly-for the first time in five years I'd remembered what it was to feel life worth living." The cast as a whole is quite gifted. Peter Dobbins, who as T.E. Lawrence/Ross must handle most of the stilted language, manages to create an honest portrayal. If Dobbins revealed the charismatic leader more fully, Lawrence's exploitation and retreat into solitude would have more weight.

The action of the play taking place at the Royal Air Force Depot comes to life more readily than the scenes those set in the Middle East, perhaps because it is squarely set in real time. Tim Smallwood, Gabe Levey, & Matthew Waterson are lively and inventive as Aircraftmen Parsons, Nolan, & Dickinson respectively, and Gabriel Vaughan as Flight Lieutenant Stoker & Sean Gormley as Flight Sergeant Thompson are well matched.

The blocking in the central passages remains rather static given the license of it being a dream. A greater velocity would certainly serve. Josh Zangen's set evokes vast desert terrain with sharp dunes rising up on all sides, and draping overhangs, but the gauzy material covering the floor is not very actor-friendly and led to some slips. Steven Logan Day's division and use of the space by employing clear traffic patterns was distinctive, though not observed by all, and Bill Sheehan created some beautiful washes with the transition to T.E.'s dream as a standout sequence employing bold and eerie lighting.

The parallel between T.E. Lawrence's story and current U.S. military activity in the Middle East is striking, bringing to bear the nature of history repeating. Lawrence's accomplishments as liason were great, but his difficulty reconciling himself to how he achieved them is a striking example of winners losing. Because of its relevance, this production is well-timed though the writing itself feels dusty. Despite the efforts to make it accessible to modern audiences, in the end, Ross comes off as more of a melodramatic portrait.

Ross: A Dramatic Portrait
By Terrence Rattigan
Directed by Stephen Logan Day
Assistant Directed by Stacey Gladstone
Cast: (in order of appearance): Flight Lieutenant Stoker/ Gabriel Vaughan; Flight Sergeant Thompson/ Sean Gormley; Aircraftman Parsons/ Tim Smallwood; Aircraftman Nolan/ Gabe Levey; Aircraftman Dickinson/ Matthew Waterson; Aircraftman Ross, Lawrence/ Peter Dobbins; Franks (The Lecturer)/ Ted McGuinness; General Allenby/ George Taylor; Ronald Storrs/ Gabriel Vaughan; Colonel Barrington/ Edward Prostak; Auda Abu Tayi/ Jamil Mena; The Turkish Military Governor, Deraa District/ Joe Danbusky; Hamed/ Josh Vasques; Rashid/ Liam Benzvi; A Turkish Captain/ Emanuele Ancorini; A Turkish Sergeant/ Anthony Russo; A British Corporal/ Chris Keveney; A.D.C./ Matthew Waterson; A Photographer/ Chris Keveney; Flight Lieutenant Higgins/ Tim Smallwood; Group Captain Wood/ Joe Danbusky
Scenic Design: Josh Zangen
Costume Design: Ruby Randig
Lighting Design: Bill Sheehan
Sound Design & Original Music: Scott O’Brien
Running Time: 3 hours including intermission
The Storm Theatre, 145 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036, 212/868-4444
Tickets: $20
October 27th through November 18th; Opening November 1
Wednesday through Friday @ 7:30PM, Saturday @ 2PM and 7:30PM
Reviewed by Betsy Winchester based on October 30th performance
broadway musicals: the 101 greatest shows of all time
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.

Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide

At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide

The Broadway Theatre Archive>


©Copyright 2006, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from