The Dresser, King’s Theatre: The show goes on as Julian Clary misses opening night

The pat on the back as the curtain fell said it all.

Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 9:28 pm

When Julian Clary fell ill and was unable to appear on the opening night of The Dresser at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh, it was down to understudy Samuel Holmes to step in.

And he did so quite superbly.

Clary is one of two stars in this touring production - the other being Matthew Kelly - and his character Norman, sits at its vey heart.

Cover of the programme for The Dresser

The Dresser is set largely backstage and revolves around ‘Sir’ (Kelly) an actor not in the best of health, physically or mentally, as he prepares to lead his touring company into yet another performance of King Lear – the 227th to be precise - with his dresser, Norman (Holmes) who bears the brunt of his outbursts and melancholy, and helps him every step of the way to the stage and back again.

Read More

Read More
Joe Malone: Tributes paid to 'Mr Kirkcaldy' after death of former Penny Farthing...

It’s set against a backdrop of falling bombs in WW2, and Kelly is fabulous as Sir - a flawed, exhausted actor who rages from fearsome to vulnerable, needing the very people he is quick to put down with waspish cruelty.

There’s a lot to unpack in his relationship with Norman, whose own life also revolves almost entirely around getting Sir on to the stage, and dealing with everyone who tries to enter the inner sanctum of the dressing-room.

And, while there is a supporting cast, this is vey much a two-hander as the play moves from the dressing-room to the stage and back again.

Eve with half of its star billing is disposed, the show goes on, and it remains hugely entertaining.

Until Saturday

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.