Saturday, 29 March 2008

Looking at the backstage of King Lear

Albert Finney (Murdered on the Orient Express, Big Fish) and Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago, The Last Butterfly) starred The Dresser, a drama film about a veteran actor who runs a theatrical group. His group performs three Shakespeare plays: King Lear, Othello and Richard III. Sir, Albert Finney’s character, always asks his assistant, every evening, what role he has to play.

The Dresser is Tom Courtenay’s part in this movie. His character’s name is Norman. Norman’s job is just to dress, but, he also nurses Sir and gives him a sip of brandy. He has become, during the years, Sir’s friend and confident.

The plot of The Dresser tells what happens on the backstage of that evening’s play (King Lear). Sir is disoriented and can’t remember his lines and he also puts on the make-up for Othello. Norman helps him with these problems and tries to solve Sir’s relationship with his wife too. Norman handles these situations with sips of brandy though he says he doesn’t drink when he is on duty.

Maybe, what makes special this film, is the performance of the actors, the timing and camera angles and the good description of the backstage world. Perhaps it is the relationship of the two main characters what makes a person not to move from the seat.

In addition, the title of this movie was translated in Spain as “The shadow of the actor”. After watching this feature film I can conclude that Norman is the shadow of Sir. Anyway, if you want to see how crazy and how sane actors are, you can’t miss this story.


Title: The Dresser
Year: 1983
Genres: Drama and Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min
Directed by Peter Yates
Starring: Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, Edward Fox
Produced by Peter Yates, Ronald Harwood, John Heyman
© Cristina Fuster Bertrand

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