The Dresser

The Dresser


Ronald Harwood’s 1980 play about a volcanic ham actor and his waspish dresser was successfully revived for TV in 2015 with two mighty knights in the lead roles, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Ian McKellen. After a sluggish start, The Dresser hits its stride as the two titans show us how it’s done. McKellen is the peppery, fey, poisonous Norman, chivvying the tempestuous “Sir” (Hopkins), as a ramshackle, provincial theatre touring group tries to put on King Lear during the Second World War.


“Sir” is a wreck; he’s clearly ill, can’t remember his lines and periodically goes off into freefall rants. Always at his side, coaxing him into his costume and make-up, is Norman; on the face of it a cheery gossip, but his veins course with venom.


Emily Watson (Sir’s wife) and Sarah Lancashire (his romantically thwarted stage manager) ensure that the men don’t steal all the glory. 


Drama based on Ronald Harwood's successful play, about the working relationship between an ageing actor and head of a touring Shakespearean theatre company, and his personal assistant. Set against the backdrop of a production of King Lear during the Blitz, the leading light's work and reputation begin to deteriorate as the situation reaches crisis point. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Emily Watson and Ian McKellen.

Cast & Crew

Sir Anthony Hopkins
Her Ladyship Emily Watson
Norman Ian McKellen
Madge Sarah Lancashire
Irene Vanessa Kirby
Thornton Edward Fox
Oxenby/Edmund Tom Brooke
Gloucester John Ashton
Kent Ian Conningham
Goneril Annalisa Rossi
Regan Helen Bradbury
Cornwall Carl Sanderson
Albany Matthew Cottle
Gentleman Martin Chamberlain
Director Richard Eyre
Producer Suzan Harrison
Writer Ronald Harwood
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