What happens when an aging actor of Shakespearean theater, in his dying days, performs a final show of King Lear with his faithful, quirky Jamaican dresser watchfully ensuring that all goes off without a hitch?
In short, a fantastic show.
“The Dresser,” a play written by Ronald Harwood and directed by CSU’s Laura Jones, made a glorious debut last Friday at the local Bas Bleu Theatre Co, a small venue tucked away at the edge of town on 401 Pine St.
With fast-paced witticisms and a perfect equilibrium of laugh-until-it-hurts comedy and drama of a man’s demise, “The Dresser” is the best show that I’ve ever seen performed in community theatre.
The only disadvantage to a spectator who was uneducated on theater superstitions and norms is the various references to them. One of the funniest jokes in the play alludes to a well-known superstition throughout theater: It is bad luck to name “Macbeth” in any theater, and it is instead called the “Scottish play” or the “Scottish tragedy.” But if you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t get the joke.
The show reveals a stage’s backstage elements in true form. The innovative design elements actually created a stage facing backward, away from the people in the audience, so they can truly witness a show from behind the scenes without leaving the comfort of their seats.
The show features seasoned Bas Bleu and Fort Collins actors Leonard Barrett, Jr., Jonathan Farwell and Wendy Ishii, all three known for their talent among the theater community.
Farwell does a great job of playing Sir, the tragic hero of the play, whose performance of King Lear mysteriously parallels his own decline. And as for Barrett, I will say this: I have never witnessed someone so natural and graceful on the stage, and so fun to talk to once the show is over – he is pretty damn funny.
“The Dresser’s” moments of grand hilarity complement its moments of sad, poetic drama. This show makes for a magnificent night at the theater and complete success – a rarity in the theater business.
Staff writer Shaughnessy Conley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Running Dates: Every Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. through Oct. 21
Every Sunday at 2:30 through Oct. 21
Ticket Info: Purchase tickets online at www.basbleu.org or at the door.
Prices range from $9.50 to $15.
Other Breakout if Room
It is terrible luck to say “Good luck!” to anyone. Instead, say, “Break a leg!”
WHY? Saying “Good luck” could tempt evil spirits into harming the person.
Thousands of theaters have haunting rumors, including CSU’s former Black Box in Johnson Hall.
WHY? Superstition holds that if a theater is completely dark, ghosts will enter it and remain there; in most theaters this is prevented by what is called a “ghost light.” CSU’s new theaters are continually lit by the exit signs above the doors.
It is unlucky to have real mirrors on the set.
WHY? The origin of this theory could have practical roots: Mirrors distort the deliberate lighting design and cause problems, and are distracting to actors. In “The Dresser,” Sir’s vanity mirror is removed and he merely stares through the frame into the audience on the other side.