ANYONE intrigued about what happens backstage in a theatre should go and see The Dresser.

The play shows emotions behind the scenes are equal to or perhaps more intense than the feelings depicted on stage. It demonstrates jealousy, love, hatred and even madness in the wings and dressing room.

While Hitler's bombs are falling on Britain, ageing actor manager Sir is determined to carry on touring the works of Shakespeare.

The plot shows Sir's devoted dresser Norman holding his exhausted, senile employee together and ensuring he gets on stage to play King Lear.

As the bitchy, complicated Norman, Nicholas Lyndhurst surprises an audience more used to seeing him in TV sitcoms.

His acerbic asides are funny and he succeeds in achieving the difficult balance of portraying an angry, controlling, alcoholic character who is also extremely tender.

Julian Glover looks like he is having fun playing the pompous Sir. Again he achieves a difficult balance, portraying someone with an ego the size of a theatre, who is struggling to come to terms with the effects of old age.

Annabel Leventon is excellent as Sir's resentful wife Her Ladyship, and mention must also go to Liza Sadavoy who plays Madge, a character whose unrequited love for the ageing actor is equal to Norman's.

The Dresser is an entertaining play based on an unusual scenario with strong characters.

It runs until tomorrow (Saturday). Tickets are £14 to £22 on 01684 892277.

Lindsay Holder