The Dresser Review
Opened 28 Feb 2005
Written:by Ronald Harwood
Directed: Peter Hall
Cast: Nicholas Lyndhurst, Julian Glover
Synopsis: Ageing actor manager, ‘Sir’, is struggling to keep a grip on his sanity and complete his 227th performance of King Lear. Despite most of the country’s actors being in uniform in wartorn Britain and bombs destroying theatres, the show must go on. Ensuring that it does is Norman, Sir’s devoted dresser, who for sixteen years has been there to fix his wig, massage his ego, remind him of his opening lines and provide the sound effects in the storm scene.
Since The Dresser, by Ronald Harwood, had its premiere in 1980 it has been staged all over Britain and throughout the world. This time it's back in London with an exceptional cast.
The story centres on 'Sir', played by Julian Glover, a long time actor who begins to lose the will to perform the many roles that he has played to such high acclaim. He is again to play King Lear for the 227th time and he wrestles with the highs and lows of his emotions to perform Lear again. Set in war-torn Britain 'Sir' finds it difficult to find the passion to keep performing but the show must go on! And Norman, his Dresser, played by the wonderful Nicholas Lyndhurst, is on hand to give 'Sir' the encouragement and reassurance that he needs to get on to the stage.
Much of the play is set in Sir's dressing room and back stage,and the set design by Simon Higlett perfectly complements the action.
Directed by Sir Peter Hall this production moves along with pace and before long we are at the interval.
An inspiring performance by both Nicholas Lyndhurst (known for his highly successful role of Rodney in Only Fools and Horses) and Julian Glover a distinguished stage and film actor who incidentally did play Lear with distinction at Shakespeare's Globe, both give wonderful and moving performances with Lyndhurst over powering any roles he is know for and bringing Norman, The Dresser, to life.
What the critics had to say.....
NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, " This Dresser arouses laughter but generates too little emotion." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "Lyndhurst provides the empathy and the craft — and the result is a memorable portrait of a life lived vicariously, on the margins, and with maximum loneliness." ADAM SCOTT for THE INDEPENDENT says, "The clarity of Harwood's writing, the precision of Hall's production and the humane codependence created by Lyndhurst and Glover get the message over with delicious laughs and an impressive absence of rancour." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "Greatly endearing play." SARAH HEMMING for THE FINANCIAL TIMES says, "Beautifully observed production."