Directed by Thomas Weitz
Produced by Caffeine Theatre
At Lincoln Square Theatre
at Berry United Methodist Church, Chicago
Riveting drama of the effects of war on the warrior
“What life to lead and where to go, After the war, after the war?” – Robert Graves
Caffeine Theatre has a well acted and most engrossing play about the ruinous effects of war on two well-educated British officers. Brian Grey as Lawrence of Arabia and poet Robert Granger, played by Ian McCabe lead the terrific cast in Stephen Massicotte’s ant-war drama.
Press notes: “In the aftermath of World War I, the poet Robert Graves and T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) develop a potentially incendiary friendship as they languish in Oxford, England. Stephen Massicotte’s play THE OXFORD ROOF CLIMBER’S REBELLION chronicles the men’s attempt to construct new lives for themselves as they face their personal demons and disillusionment of participation in a war that still haunts them. Robert retreats into himself while Ned lives a debonair lifestyle. But when their mischievous pranks on university administrators escalate into a climactic confrontation involving problems of social class and espionage, Robert might be in over his head. Could poetry topple the British Empire? Will Robert’s marriage become collateral damage in Ned’s post-war subterfuge?”
This is a welcome engrossing work that vividly depicts the friendship (and possibly more) between T.E. Lawrence and Robert Graves as the two share common adjustment problems after the horrific experiences of both men in 1920. Robert from the trenches of France and Lawrence from his adventures in the Middle East as he led the Arabs against the Turks in World War I. Warriors have always found problems adjusting to ‘civilian life’ after the tribulations of war. The quirky and anti-social Lawrence played with panache by Brian Grey finds a withdrawn Robert as his mostly willing companion/ (lover?). We see Robert as he struggles with the enticement of Lawrence and the family life with Nancy (Lucy Carapetyan) and his two infants.
The danger and excitement of roof climbing at Oxford fuels the need for adventure for the danger junkies -Lawrence and Graves. This fine writing and terrific acting also includes Vincent P. Mahler as the British diplomat charged with settling national boundaries after the Great War. Aftermath of war on soldiers is deftly demonstrated here and its lessons still haunt warriors today as they return from Afghanistan. Brian Grey was most impressive in this show.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: March 17, 2012
At Lincoln Square Theatre, 4754 N. Leavitt Ave., Chicago, Il,call 312-409-4778, tickets $20, Thursday & Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 7:30 pm,running time is 1 hour, 55 minutes without intermission, through April 14, 2012