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Here for the Lear

AT least with the pandemic there are no bombs dropping on our heads… which is something that didn’t apply back in the war-torn Britain of 1942.

I don’t know whether the irony of the timing is intentional, but I would love to think that Malvern Theatres' choice of starting their spring season with Ronald Harwood’s The Dresser is definitely a case of “well, if you think it’s tough now, just take a look at what it was like in days gone by.”

So. With German planes droning overhead, a provincial theatre’s aging actor manager, known to his loyal acting company as ‘Sir’ is struggling to cling on to his sanity, and complete his 227th performance of King Lear.

It’s therefore down to Norman, Sir’s devoted dresser to ensure that, in spite of everything, the show goes on.

For several years, Norman has been there to fix Sir’s wig, massage his ego, remind him of his opening lines, and provide the sound effects in the famous storm scene – that is, of course, if the bomber crews don’t offer to do it for free instead.

The Dresser stars Julian Clary and Matthew Kelly. It will run at the Festival Theatre from Tuesday, January 18, until Saturday, January 22.

Right, we go from bombs in the night to strangers in the night. Mind you, there should still be plenty of romantic fireworks being set off with Bernard Slade’s Same Time, Next Year.

Doris and George meet in 1951, a chance encounter in a Californian hotel that leads to a one-night stand. Both are married to other people but, soon aware that this might be the start of something, they promise to meet 12 months later.

What follows is a love affair that lasts 25 years. The play charts their lives through the trials of parenthood, career highs and lows, as well as the shifting fashions and morals of the passing decades.

One of the world’s most widely staged plays, Same Time, Next Year was originally produced on Broadway in 1975. It’s on stage at the Festival Theatre from Wednesday, January 26, to Saturday, January 29.

One of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen – and I don’t say that lightly, because I’ve seen quite a few – was The Play That Goes Wrong, so memorably staged a while back at Malvern before nightly capacity audiences.

Well, I was wondering when the multi award-winning Mischief Theatre was going to provide us with a follow-up, and – happy to report - it’s here in the form of Groan Ups.

And I’ve just got the feeling that I’m going to love their latest offering because it poses this crucial question - do we ever really grow up? And is the story of our lives already written?

I’m attracted to these notions because a) I’ve for long thought that we have some kind of template for existence and b) deciding to stop acting like a child has always seemed to me to be such a boring move to make, which is why I’m perfectly content to continue acting in a totally infantile manner.

And that’s why I will be following an unruly classroom of six-year-olds on their journey through being anarchic high school teenagers with great interest… hoping to pick up some tips, obviously. Groan Ups is being staged at the Festival Theatre from Monday, January 31, to Saturday, February 5.

Finally – for the time being at least, but watch out for future blogs on Showtime! – we arrive at The Play What I Wrote. Thom has written a play, an epic set during the French revolution, titled A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple. Dennis, on the other hand, wants to continue with their double act. He believes that if they perform a tribute to Morecambe and Wise, Thom’s confi

dence will be restored and the double act will go on.

Billed as being one of the biggest comedy hits ever, the Festival Theatre curtain comes up on The Play What I Wrote on Monday, February 14, running until Saturday, February 19.

I think you’ll all agree that these presentations will make for a fabulous start to the 2022 season at Malvern Theatres - and one that bodes very well far into the future, too.

Pictured: Julian Clary and Matthew Kelly star in The Dresser.




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