The Dresser

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich Theatre Royal

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

> Norwich Theatre Royal

The secret lies all in the blending.

Marvellously comic but movingly tragic, very theatrical but yet also genuinely human, a portrait of an impossible relationship between a sacred monster and his servant who can hardly cope, The Dresser makes grand entertainment while managing to strike some canny blows as it goes its way.

Ronald Harwood has taken the myth of an actor after a heroic career fighting the Philistines in the provinces and now, at the end, just about holding out even against Hitler's bombers.

Julian Glover gives the role its two sides, the grand and the petty, the grandiloquent and grumbling. Lear is his role, and he staggers under the load of his responsibilities and of Cordelia, who has grown old in his service.

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Every inch a king down to his sock suspenders, he can still bark and still find a bite to deal with his rivals.

His dresser, the man whose job is to help this elderly trooper mount his charger and to persuade him to go into the attack once more, is played by Nicholas Lyndhurst.

Long-limbed and long-suffering, with a curious mix of resignation and resent-ment, he it is who takes the limelight. He plays the part with what might be called delicious skill, getting across every word though he rarely raises his voice.

The production by Peter Hall, on a set by Simon Higlett, is ingenious and swift.

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