The Desert Queen revived

Published: 13 April 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Hands On NE is to revive David Farr’s 2018 play The Desert Queen with a new cast for a regional tour in April and May.

The new production features Kylie Ann Ford (The Dolly Mixtures at the Customs House) and Lawrence Neal (The Dirty Flea-Bitten Scrounging Bastard and Rainbird for Cloud Nine and Vera and The Dumping Ground on TV) and will again be directed by Neil Armstrong.

It tells the story of Gertrude Bell (1868–1926) who, at a time when a woman’s place was definitely in the home, was an archaeologist, mountaineer, explorer, spy, diplomat, author, gardener, photographer, mapmaker, librarian, linguist, friend of Lawrence of Arabia, Winston Churchill and King Faisal of Iraq and who came from the North East. Ford plays Miss Bell and Neale everyone else (and there are many!).

The production opens at the Pier Pavilion in South Shields on 17 and 18 April, before touring to:


  • 23: Park View Community Centre, Chester-Le-Street
  • 25: Kirkleatham Museum
  • 26: Rounton Village Hall
  • 27: Alne Village Hall
  • 29: Royalty Theatre Sunderland
  • 30: Saltburn Community Theatre


  • 1: Catterick Village Booth
  • 2: Whitby Coliseum
  • 3: Thirsk & Sowerby Town Hall
  • 4: Thirsk & Sowerby Town Hall
  • 7: Neasham Reading Room
  • 8: St Francis Village Hall, Hutton Henry
  • 9: The Forum, Northallerton
  • 10: The Literary & Philosophical Society, Newcastle
  • 11: The Literary & Philosophical Society, Newcastle (2:30 & 7:00)

All performances are at 7:30 unless otherwise noted.