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The Dresser

by Ronald Harwood

Directed by Peter Nouwens

Season: 17th December 1994 - 4th February 1995

In his introduction to the script, Ronald Harwood says that The Dresser is not the story of his time as dresser to Sir Donald Wolfit, one of the last actor-managers that operated in England. He says that although there are parallels that can be drawn, it is more the story of what was the British theatre from the early 18th Century until the late 1930s, and I agree with him.

Further, I feel the play closely parallels William Shakespear's King Lear. In The Dresser, the 3 female roles can be closely compared with Lear's 3 daughters. None, save perhaps Irene (who anyway has her own purpose to pursue), shows compassion to the ailing Sir. All push, drive and contrive to get something from him. All this contributes to his worsening state, as is the case with King Lear. To me, Norman is the Fool of King Lear, Mr Oxenby, the conniving Edmund, Geoffrey Thornton, the ever loyal Gloucester.

Sir steps in and out of his state, as does King Lear. King Lear re-discovers himself towards the end of the play. He realises that all is lost, except perhaps for his knowledge of himself. Sir does not however, and this can also be seen as a great tragedy.

In Lear, the Fool is removed from the action during the storm scene, We are not told of what happens to him. Horman is removed from the action at the end of The Dresser, and we do not know what will happen to him. Perhaps there are two tragedies being played out in this story

Cast: Peter Dye, Gaynor Mitchell, Anne Evers, Michael Stacey, Elizabeth Bryce, Robert Leey, Steve Andrews, Judd Driksna, John Czernieki