The Dresser

by Ronald Harwood
Singapore Repertory Theatre
DBS Arts Centre, Singapore

Glad to have caught the premiere of Ronald Harwood's acclaimed play The Dresser by the Singapore Repertory Theatre. This is the tale of aging actor-manager "Sir" (Michael Corbridge), the leader of a travelling group of Shakespearean actors  as he prepares for a performance of King Lear, and his loyal, long-serving dresser Norman. 

Stage veteran Adrian Pang executes a near flawless Norman, his effeminate gestures and quaint little mannerisms reminding one of his turn as Felix in SRT's The Odd Couple two years ago. As a grumpy, irate actor past his prime, Corbridge has a commanding stage presence which makes him enjoyable though he is quite palpably overshadowed by Pang's many quips and one-liners that has the audience eating out of his hand.

The supporting cast proves generally lacklustre, most notably Pam Oei as Madge, the grumpy stage manager whose patchy local accent feels incongruous in comparison with the crisp British accents of the other cast members.

Sebastian Zeng's set is a mini architectural marvel, boasting translucent passageways that showed characters concealed outside the main acting area upon the dimming of the main stage lights and which cleverly transformed from dressing room to backstage with a few prop changes.

Tracie Pang's direction is deft, nuanced and succeeds in bringing out the pathos of Harwood's script amidst all the laughs. Overall, a splendid production by the SRT.

The Crystalwords score: 8/10


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