'The Dresser': A Great Cast Spins Some Gold (by kckidjoseph-1)
The new BBC-Starz production of Ronald Harwood's 'The Dresser' is a riveting play-within-a-play and then some that throws its arms around the subjects of life, lessened dreams and simply getting on with it.Directed and adapted by Richard Eyre with a cast headed by Ian McKellen, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Watson, the work focuses on a Shakespearean troupe that tours the outskirts of England very pointedly, not London during the bombing, quite literally, of that country during World War II. Each night the troupe performs a different Shakespearean play, come hell or high water. <more>
Tonight, it's "King Lear," with Hopkins's character, who is called Sir for the outside hope that he will one day be knighted by the Queen , in the lead.Attending him backstage is his loyal dresser _ his costume man _ Norman, played by Ian McKellen.What transpires is a nigh-on perfect production Rotten Tomatoes gave it a perfect 100% that sails along all too quickly with no down spots, not only giving us a dead-on accurate view of the theatrical world and those who dedicate their lives to it if even in the shadows, but as fine a treatise on life and love as you've experienced in any medium anywhere, at any time.The story opens as we await the arrival of Sir from the hospital, with a conversation between the long-suffering dresser Norman and Her Ladyship Emily Watson, in another terrific turn , an aging actress pressed into playing one of Lear's daughters, Cordelia, who knows she's too old for the role _ slashing reviews never let her forget it _ but who stays with it because of her love for Sir and the hope he will leave the business and settle down with her.Ah, but Her Ladyship isn't the only woman in love with Sir. There's also Madge, the tough stage manager. As played by the wildly versatile Sarah Lancashire, whom we've seen portray everything from hard-bitten cops to frazzled shopkeepers, it's a character with more layers than the proverbial onion.What's wrong with Sir, is it a physical problem or mental? Will he survive? Will he show up?When the old actor finally does arrive backstage spouting a riff of quotations, his own mixed with Shakespeare's, we worry that he might expire before he can be carted before the footlights.Watching McKellen and Hopkins in apparently their first performance together is like watching two world-class surgeons at the top of their games doing open-heart surgery on the same patient at the same time. It's overwhelming. But the good news is that the two great actors don't compete for attention and become show-boats. Instead they have a mutual trust and respect for each other that is palpable. The characters benefit greatly from this, and so do we.One of the production's most effective, poignant and revealing moments is provided by the veteran actor Edward Fox, who portrays a supporting performer trapped in a "play-as-cast" cycle, lesser parts falling somewhere between cameos and spear carriers. His final speech to Sir not only encapsulates the lot of actors universally, but the needs and longings of people outside the business as well."The Dresser" has been previously presented in the U.K. and on Broadway, as well as in a 1983 film, but this version takes a back seat to none other and may well be the best offering yet. It comes with the highest recommendation.
I felt like I had a golden ticket front row at the Shaftesbury Theatre. (by Sleepin_Dragon)
Ageing actor known only as 'Sir,' is a stage actor of many talents, but sadly failing health. One night he's due on stage to give a lead role in King Lear, he fails to arrive on time and panic sets in at the Theatre, tensions are raised enough as Nazi bombs fall in the area. Sir arrives eventually, clearly ill and forgetful. He is helped, calmed, coaxed and encouraged by his dresser Norman to prepare and go on. Sir gives a fine performance, but tragically dies.It's a very famous story, penned by Ronald Harwood, originally adapted back in 1983 when Tom Courtenay and Albert <more>
Finney shared the stage, so it felt like time for a refresh.The casting of Hopkins was brilliant, he was funny, charismatic, stubborn and commanding, I truly thought he was excellent. McKellan I think it's fair to say stole the show as Norman, his performance I can only describe as Wizardry, he was just sensational, and if he doesn't get some kind of award for this I'll be speechless. The interplay between the two was just glorious, talk about two greats showcasing their extraordinary talents.Every single member of the supporting cast were also brilliant, Emily Watson, Sarah Lancashire, Edward Fox, Vanessa Kirkby, Tom Brooke, what a great job done by the Casting Director.So many wonderful scenes to speak of, I particularly liked Hopkins transformation scene into King Lear, an I also loved how expertly McKellen went from sober to drunk.Overall 9/10 Very close to being worth the License Fee alone.
It's funny how 32 years can fly past so quickly. It's one of those titles you'd have thought they'd never dare tackle, but sure enough they did. Thoughts before watching, they won't hold a candle to the mastery of Messers Courtenay and Finney. Was Hopkins right for Sir?Thoughts after watching, a successful outing for two acting greats that managed so amuse and sadden. McKellen expertly cast, Hopkins shone after twenty minutes or so. It generated a level of intimacy, similar to the feeling captured only live on stage.A nice touch having Edward Fox in the remake, he'd <more>
been marvelously cold as Oxenby back in '83. The part where he touchingly pleads for work was beautiful.
There's superb acting in this deep and powerful drama, adapted to the screen by Ronald Harwood, based on his own play, and ably directed by Richard Eyre. It will probably appeal only to a certain slice of viewers, those that can get into a deliberately paced and dialogue driven film and are not looking for an action flick.The lead actors here Anthony Hopkins, Ian McKellen, Emily Watson, and Sarah Lancashire are all excellent in their roles. with a fine supporting cast enhancing the movie. To be honest, I hadn't heard of Lancashire before, but she was quite amazing in a very <more>
understated performance, and one scene with Hopkins was truly mesmerizing.All in all, I found this film became even more powerful as it progressed and with its superb acting, writing, and direction can certainly be recommended for those that like a heavy and most well presented drama.
My goodness, you don't get better than this. Tony Hopkins and Ian McKellen are perfectly cast in this authentic feeling take on travelling theatre during the second world war. Ill and aged, 'Sir' has premonitions, Norman the Dresser is desperate to hang on to what little life he has as Sir's most trusted aide. Without his role he has nothing. Norman is so caught up in his own anxieties he misses the clues to Sir's nagging self-doubts, his statements that 'he can't go on' and that 'really he should be resting at home'. Hopkins's portrayal is so <more>
subtle it is heart rending. This subtlety cannot be gained on stage as stray tears cannot be seen from the stalls let alone the gallery. McKellen, meanwhile, fusses and flaps with perfectly understood gay mannerisms for the period setting. As Norman, he gets perfectly right the intonation in his voice as he ducks and bows to Sir. These two actors provide stand out performances but this is not to commend all the other actors who also pull off incredibly touching and believable performances. Oh yes, this is worth watching, just be prepared to be left bereft.