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Theatre REVIEW: The Dresser - ★★★

by Ronald Harwood

Directed by Terry Johnson

Julian Clary and Matthew Kelly star in this funny and affectionate portrait of backstage life.

Inspired by memories of working as Donald Wolfit’s dresser as a young man, Ronald Harwood’s evocative, affectionate and hilarious portrait of backstage life is one of the most acclaimed dramas of modern theatre.

Olivier award-winner, Matthew Kelly stars as an ageing actor manager, known to his loyal acting company as ‘Sir’, who is struggling to cling on to his sanity and complete his two hundred and twenty seventh performance of King Lear.

Julian Clary stars as Norman, Sir’s devoted dresser who ensures that in spite of everything, the show goes on. For sixteen years Norman has been there to fix Sir’s wig, massage his ego, remind him of his opening lines and provide the sound effects in the storm scene



King's Theatre, Edinburgh


Until Saturday 19th February



Tuesday 15th February: Stewart

Stewart - ★★★

'This one is a bit of a classic old school tale of 'the show must go on' as the grand pompous actor Sir (played with mischievous glee by Matthew Kelly) struggles to prepare for his performance of King Lear.

Sadly Julian Clary was absent at the performance due to illness so his understudy Samuel Holmes (who normally plays Mr Oxenby) stepped in to take the role of Sir's put-upon dresser. Holmes finds some lovely nuances within the performance however the age gap between the two leads did subtract somewhat from the overall feel of the play itself.

The staging of an old run down theatre was particularly well created by Mark Carey and the grand but worn down wardrobe and wigs by Danny Evans added to the mood of the piece.

The production is played a little too mannered for my liking however by the cast which loses some of the subtle shades of Harwood's script. The relationships between the characters didn't particularly ring true when each performance is played at full pelt towards the audience. Perhaps it's a production Sir himself would be proud to be a part if!

A mistreatment of a young female character hasn't dated very well either but performed with a softer presentation than may have come previously.

That's not to say there isn't plenty to enjoy, when the comedy elements of the play are explored there's a grand murmur of laughs throughout the audience. It's nice to get back in the theatre and see a production that is so clearly loved by the team and that warmth spreads out to the audience. Along with Kenneth Branagh's film Belfast currently in cinemas picking up awards all over this season, it's a gentle reminder that there's nothing wrong with a bit of fond nostalgia."


Make sure you have booked in for the latest DRAMA CLASSES at Mix Up Theatre throughout Scotland and Online :)

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