INSPIRED by memories of his years working as a dresser for actor-manager Sir Donald Wolfit, Ronald Harwood's evocative, perceptive and hilarious portrait of backstage life comes to Limelight Theatre this April and May.
Directed by Sue Mainwaring, The Dresser is set in England against the backdrop of World War II as a group of Shakespearean actors tour a seaside town and perform in a shabby provincial theatre.
The actor-manager, known as “Sir”, struggles to cast his popular Shakespearean productions while the able-bodied men are away fighting.
With his troupe beset with problems, he has become exhausted – and it’s up to his devoted dresser Norman, struggling with his own mortality, and stage manager Madge to hold things together.
The Dresser scored playwright Ronald Harwood, also responsible for the screenplays Australia, Being Julia and Quartet, best play nominations at the 1982 Tony and Laurence Olivier Awards.
He adapted it into a 1983 film, featuring Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, and received five Academy Award nominations.
Mainwaring, who also plays the role of “Her Ladyship”, describes The Dresser as “an exceptionally good piece of theatre”.
“It’s written with humour and pathos, set in a time of struggle and emotional upheaval in wartime England,” she said.
“Bombs are falling outside the theatre while the actors strive to cope with the drama within.”
Involved with Limelight Theatre for the past 17 years, Mainwaring is a theatre jill-of-all-trades having acted, directed, built sets and helped with bookings and properties, as well as serving a two-year stint as president.
She has appeared in a plethora of productions including Chicago, Singin’ in the Rain, High Society, Me and My Girl, Talking Heads, The Stillborn Lover, Pack of Lies, Absurd Person Singular, Caravan and Kindly Keep It Covered to name a few.
Mainwaring has also won awards for best actor, best production and best set and produced Cats, Annie and ’Allo ’Allo at the Regal Theatre, along with performances at the Playhouse and Mandurah Performing Arts Centre.
Most recently, she turned her hand to making costumes for Limelight Theatre’s sell-out season of The Phantom of the Opera late last year.
But new challenges await with The Dresser.
“The main one is the set design because, at times, there are views of backstage and on-stage performances in conjunction with each other,” Mainwaring said.
The Dresser plays at 8pm, April 23, 24, 26, 30, May 1, 2 and 3. Tickets are $21, $18 concession and $16 children – book on 9571 8591 between 9am and midday, Monday to Friday, or at www.limelighttheatre.com.
Limelight Theatre is located on Civic Drive, Wanneroo.
dresser1: Chris Juckes, left, plays Norman, the dresser of the play’s title, to the actor-manager known as “Sir” (Bob Mainwaring).
dresser2: Director Sue Mainwaring, left, also plays “Her Ladyship” in The Dresser, wife of actor-manager “Sir” (her real-life husband Bob Mainwaring).
dresser3: Tim Riessen, left, and Jason Pearce, right, play actors who have to take on roles in King Lear under the watchful eye of actor-manager “Sir” (Bob Mainwaring) in the play The Dresser.
The Limelight Theatre in Wanneroo, Western Australia, is the home of the Wanneroo Repertory Inc.
P: (08) 9571 8591