The dark and jagged set of Ronald Harwood's play "The Dresser" is the ratty backstage area—moldy dressing rooms, cramped corridors and wings—of a crumbling theater somewhere in the British provinces. The time is 1942, and the stink of death is in the air. Outside, there are howling sirens, signaling another Luftwaffe bombing raid. Inside, skulking about the gloom, are Mr. Harwood's central characters—two men who seem to have scant reason to live.
Sir … is an aged Shakespearean actor-manager, now reduced to touring third-rate towns with a war-depleted troupe of "old men, cripples and nancy-boys." His mind and body are failing fast, yet tonight he is to give his 427th performance as King Lear....
(The entire section is 677 words.)