The Dresser

Synopsis: In the closing months of World War Two ageing actor 'Sir' and his wife Her Ladyship bring Shakespeare to the provinces with a company depleted by conscription. 'Sir' is plainly unwell, discharging himself from hospital and Her Ladyship believes he should cancel his upcoming performance of 'King Lear'. However Norman, his outspoken, gay dresser disagrees and is determined that the show will go on, cajoling the confused 'Sir' into giving a performance - one which will be his swansong, at the same time drawing a parallel between King Lear and his fool as Norman, despite ultimate disappointment, serves his master.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Richard Eyre
Production: Playground Productions
  Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 7 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
105 min

'German aircraft carried out

a number of attacks

'on Great Britain last night.

'The raids,

which lasted for several hours,

'were scattered over many

parts of the country.

'And the enemy aircraft has been...


'.. reported over towns on

the south coast,

'the west of England, the North

Midlands and the north-west,

'as well as over the London area. '

He does nothing but cry.

Are they keeping him in?

They wouldn't let me stay.

The doctor said

I seemed to make matters worse.

I should never have taken him

to the hospital.

I don't know what came over me.

I should have brought him

back here where he belongs.

Why is his coat on the floor?

And his hat?

Drying out. They're wet through.

Well, how did he come to

be in such a state, Norman?

When you telephoned, I thought

at first that he'd been hurt

in the air raid. Oh, no.

Or had an accident.

Oh, no, not an accident.

No, I know because they said there

was no sign of physical injury.

Your Ladyship. He's in a state

of collapse. Yes, I know.

Well, how did he get like that?

Your Ladyship... What happened to

him? Sit down. Please, sit down.

We must remain calm.

The doctor said it must have been

coming on for weeks.

Oh, if not longer.

Well, I didn't see him this morning.

He left the digs before I woke.

Where was he all day?

Where did you find him? Well, what

happened was this, Your Ladyship.

After the last "all clear" sounded,

I went into Market Square

just as dusk was coming on.

Peculiar light, ever so yellowish.

I'd hoped to find a packet or two

of Brown & Polson's cornflour,

since our supplies are rather low.

So I was asking at this stall

and that's when I heard his voice.

Whose voice?

Sir's, of course.

He was taking off his overcoat -

in this weather!

"God help the man who stops me,"

he shouted, and then

he threw the coat to the ground just

like King Lear in the storm scene.

Look at it. I don't know

that I'll ever get it clean.

And he was so proud of it,

do you remember...?

Oh, no, perhaps it

was before your time.

The first Canadian tour, Toronto.

What happened after

he took off his coat?

Started on the hat!

Dunn's, Piccadilly, only a year ago,

down on the coat it went and

he jumped on it, he stamped on his

hat, viciously stamped on his hat.

Well, you can see.

Then he lifted his arms in the air

like he does to convey

sterility into Goneril's womb, "How

much further do you want me to go?"

His fingers were all of a fidget,

undoing his jacket,

loosening his collar and tie,

tearing at the buttons of his shirt.

Were there many people about?

A small crowd.

That's why I ran to him.

I didn't want him to stand there

looking ridiculous

with people all around, sniggering.

Did he see you?

Did he know who you were?

I didn't wait to find out.

I just took his hand and I said,

"Good evening, Sir, shouldn't

we be getting to the theatre?"

in my best nanny voice, the one

I use when he's being wayward.

He paid no attention.

He was shivering.

You shouldn't have let the public

see him like that.

It's easy to be wise after

the event, if you don't mind

my saying so, Your Ladyship,

but I tried to spirit him away,

not easy with a man

of his proportions.

Only, just then...

.. a woman approached,

quite old, wearing bombazine

under a tweed coat

but perfectly respectable.

She'd picked up his clothes

and wanted to help him dress.

And Sir said to the lady,

"Thank you, my dear,

but Norman usually helps me.

"I'd be lost without Norman,"

and I thought,

"Well, this is your cue, ducky,"

so I said,

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Richard Eyre

Sir Richard Charles Hastings Eyre (born 28 March 1943) is an English film, theatre, television and opera director. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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