It’s been far too long since Ken Stott appeared on the West End stage, but he makes up for a seven year absence with a truly affecting portrayal of Sir, an ageing actor-manager touring his productions of Shakespeare round the provinces during the second World War as bombs fall all around. Drawing on his experience as Sir Donald Wolfit’s dresser, Ronald Harwood’s 1980 drama shows a distinctly unpleasant and disappointed man cracking up physically and mentally just before he’s due to go on stage as Lear. He can barely remember which play he’s supposed to be doing, let alone his opening lines. But the show must go on, and despite the pleadings of “Her Ladyship” (his co-star and regularly cheated on partner) it’s his camp dresser Norman who urges him on.
Reece Shearsmith’s excellent Norman is wheedling, persuasive, caring – and, when necessary, waspishly nasty – in his determination to keep Sir on stage. Without him, he, too, has no future. And Stott is magnificent as Sir, somehow, Lear-like, engaging our sympathies for this demanding, egotistical thespian.
Duke of York’s, St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4BG
Tube: Charing Cross / Leicester
Until 14th January 2017
£ 25.00 – £65.00