The Everyman Theatre was fit to burst on Tuesday 27 September 2016, as hordes of culture-lovers flocked to the opening night of the Olivier award-nominated play and eagerly awaited revival of The Dresser, ahead of its anticipated run on the West End.
The play tells the tale of a once-famous classical actor, known simply as ‘Sir’, struggling to prepare for his renowned lead role in King Lear, while his dutiful dresser attempts to rouse a performance from him.
Despite WWII raging in the background, Sir seemingly losing his mind and relationships unravelling, the show must go on, in what has been described as a ‘comic tragedy’.
Set in a dingy backstage dressing room, audiences were quickly introduced to Norman the Dresser, played by Reece Shearsmith, whose word-perfect opening scene established the high calibre of the play, as he recounts witnessing Sir jumping on his hat and attempting to streak down the streets.
Unsteady and crashing footsteps introduce Sir – played by the veteran actor, Ken Stott – who made his perfectly clumsy entrance in a crumpled suit with dishevelled hair, before sitting at his dressing table in floods of tears.
For the next hour, audiences watched on in frustration as Norman attempted to get Sir ready for the evening’s show, with impatience and exasperation building as Sir took one step forward and two steps back, sometimes quite literally.
If the standing ovation was anything to go by, The Dresser is sure to receive an equally warm welcome and wowed response when it hits the West End next week.
Finally, Sir was ready for his performance, and the Everyman stage yet again excelled in showing off its versatility, as a giant rotating platform allowed the actors to walk from set to set, creating an immersive and cinematic illusion.
Reece Shearsmith certainly stole the show, boasting an incredible memory for lines, unfathomable stamina and an acting range that spanned everything from Norman’s loveable and almost heroic support of Sir, to an emotional and anguished closing speech, which saw audiences dabbing at their eyes.
Packed with poignant moments, intelligent humour and convincing acting, the cast bowed to a rapturous applause at the Everyman, and if the standing ovation was anything to go by, The Dresser is sure to receive an equally warm welcome and wowed response when it hits the West End next week.
By Alice Lloyd
Wednesday 28 September 2016
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