Venue : The Dovehouse Theatre
Date : May 2007
Genre : Drama
Front of House
Overview of the Play
Wythall Theatre Company is pleased to be returning to the Dovehouse after our previously successful productions of ‘Neville’s Island’ and ‘Cemetery Club’. The Company are proud to present their production of ‘The Dresser’ by Ronald Harwood.
The play is set in a war torn provincial theatre (1942) and focuses on an ageing actor (known as Sir) and his devoted dresser Norman. Sir’s sanity is pushed to the limits as he endeavours to complete yet another run of ‘King Lear’ (his two hundred and twenty seventh performance of the play). Nevertheless, after sixteen years of loyal service, Norman is there to help Sir remember lines, fix his wig and comfort his fragile ego.
This play is particularly poignant because it was inspired by Ronald Harwood’s own memories of working as Donald Wolfit’s dresser. It provides an evocative, perceptive and hilarious portrait of backstage life and has been a highly acclaimed drama. ‘The Dresser’, a hit play in London (1980) and on Broadway (1981) subsequently became a successful film (1983) starring Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney.
M. Bridger and A. Cherry, WTC Website
Editorial Friday 27 April 2007
Hot on the heels of the Swan Theatre Amateur Company's superb production of The Dresser last week comes the chance to see another group's version of Ronald Harwood's tragic comedy about an old actor-manager and the man who has been his faithful aide for 16 years.
And this forthcoming production, opening next week, will come in two parts. Next Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Wythall Theatre Company will present it at the Dovehouse Theatre, Solihull. The from May 10 - 12 the following week the group will be in the studio at the Palace Theatre, Redditch.
The play is not done nearly often enough - possibly because any director has to be certain that he has found two top-class actors for its central roles - so having it in three local venues in the the space of four weeks is a rare treat.
Having said that, the production at the Swan Theatre, Worcester, drew a disgraceful response at the box office, with only about 20 people on each of the firest four nights. This rose to the dizzy heights of 70 for Saturday's final performance. I hope the intrepid Wythall group is not similarly smitten.
John Slim, Birmingham Mail
Review Saturday May 5 2007 'Sir Rages at the dying of the light'
Ronald Harwood's well-written play is about a ailing actor and his dresser, Norman, preparing for a production of King Lear in wartime London.
It is Tony Lacey, playing the role of the talkative Norman, who takes the audience by storm. He is exceptional.
As the actor, known as Sir, is reluctant to perform, Lacey brilliantly conveys the various qualities needed to motivate his mentor. He is loyal manservant, confidant, clown, prompter, father and mother with an ever-ready shoulder to cry on.
When a rival vies for Sir's affections, Norman's dark side emerges in menacing fashion.
As Sir, David Key's stylish performance contains all the traits associated with an egocentric actor faced with diminishing days on the boards.
The final curtain comes down on Sir tonight.
Verdict: Star Rating 4/5
Peter Swingler, Birmingham Mail
What the audience said...
"I brought two friends last night to see The Dresser. Tony Lacey was amazing and my friend Dave said that it was the best amateur production he had ever seen... We were all amazed by the production... I am proud to by a Wythall Angel." E.M.
"Really enjoyed the show last night, it was my first experience at an am dram production (I've lived a sheltered life!) I found it very inspiring." S.C.
"It was a fantastic play, we both really enjoyed it. Just been on the website and that's brilliant too." J.B.
"Well done on the play - enjoyed it - laughed a lot and found it very moving at the end. Have to say well done Tony for surviving the helpful steward who brought those people in just in the middle of the air raid - very professionally handled….the show must go on!!" A.T.
"Congratulations to everyone involved in The Dresser. We have just returned from seeing the play at the Palace and thought we must drop you a line to say how much we appreciated the production and how professional it was. Please pass on our appreciation." I.D. and J.D.
Our Audience, Comments and Social Media
Editorial Friday 13 April 2007
Members of Wythall Theatre Company plan to present an ambitious of The Dresser at two venues next month. It will have its first three nights at Solihull's Dovehouse Theatre on May 3 to 5, then a week later the group will become the first to present a major theatre production in the new studio theatre at the splendidly revamped Palace Theatre, Reddictch - where it is going to find a much smaller space and lighting limitations.
It will be interesting to see how the studio copes with providing sound effects, because air raids are accustomed to making themselves heard in Ronald Harwood's story of an actor-manager and his touring company during the Second World War.
John Slim, Birmingham Mail