The Dresser

by Ronald Harwood
June 15, 16, 17, 2000
Directed by Ann Westcott
Produced by Peter Unsworth.
Stage Manager: Judith Watson

The play takes place in a down-at-heel provincial theatre in 1941, where a travelling company, deprived of talent and resources by the demands of the war effort, is struggling to present the classics to a country starved of cultural entertainments.

NODA Review

The Set

The Set

The set represents the offstage area and dressing room of a seedy provincial theatre.
The stage can be divided into two distinct acting areas by the movement of a cut-away wall hinged at USC.
When positioned towards SR it forms Sir's dressing room and when swung towards SL the acting area becomes the wings of the theatre stage.
The wall incorporates a door into the corridor

Set design by Alan Watson
Scenery by Judith Watson and Sue McRoberts
Properties by Karen Martin (seen in the photo, setting props)
Lighting by Terry Bullworthy

The Ambience

two land girls and an air raid warden

To recreate the atmosphere of the time, the hall was decorated with reproduction wartime posters and our Front of House and Catering dressed as ARP wardens and landgirls

Left: Carrie Bedford, Margaret Hussey and Jill Tcherniak
Right: The safety announcements were made by ARP warden Rita Bullworthy, complete with tin hat and stirrup pump.

As a final touch, the audience were invited to stand for the National Anthem, which in 1941, was always played before and after performances.

the safety announcements

The Cast of The Dresser

From left to right

Geoffrey Thornton (Peter Unsworth)
Irene (Debbie Hockey)
Her Ladyship (Debbie Flanagan))
Norman (Mike Jackson)
Sir (Tim Williams)
Madge (Jenny Hyatt )
Mr Oxenby (Don Hussey)
Also taking part as off stage voices; Matthew Tasker and Dave Jones

the cast of The Dresser
Norman with Madge and Her Ladyship

It is opening night of "King Lear" and the protagonist "Sir" has collapsed in the street and is in hospital.

Sir's dresser, Norman (Mike Jackson) discusses this disastrous situation with Sir's wife, Her Ladyship (Deborah Flanagan) and stage manager Madge (Jenny Hyatt)

Sir (Tim Williams) arrives, having discharged himself from hospital, but he is far from well.

 Norman and Sir Norman's gargantuan task of coaxing Sir into costume and makeup is eased along by frequent visits to the hip flask.
 The cast assembles It is almost time. Her Ladyship, playing Cordelia, comes to check on her husband. In the corridor two of the company wait for their final instructions from Sir.
(Don Hussey and Peter Unsworth)
Mr Thornton as the Fool

To add to the troubled situation, a member of the cast has been arrested for unmentionable behaviour.
Mr Geoffrey Thornton (Peter Unsworth) is promoted to play Fool.
Sir gives him a few pointers, such as "Don't upstage the leading actor"

At the end of Act one, an air raid siren sounds. The curtains close, but Norman is sent out to assure the audience that the play will go on

The cast assembles for King Lear

Act two, finds the cast assembled in the wings for King Lear.
Sir is barely able to stand

Madge, Irene (Debbie Hockey), Her Ladyship, Norman, Geoffrey and Sir

In between his appearances as King Lear, Sir rests in his dressing room.
He refuses to listen to his wife's plea that he retire from the stage. He learns that Madge has loved him hopelessly for years.
In a last glimmer of the old fire, Sir attempts to seduce the ingenue, Irene. She doesn't exactly laugh at him.

Against all odds, Sir and King Lear make it to the final curtain, mostly due to Norman's support, coaxing, bullying and cajoling.
Almost everyone has left the theatre, leaving Norman and Sir alone.
Quite suddenly, Sir feels a little unwell and just as suddenly, he dies, quite quietly

Norman is devastated

Sir quietly dies

Copyright © 2002. EydonPlayers
Revised -- October 2011 Version 10a