(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 10/13.)

Backstage plays never do well,” John Gielgud gravely advised Ronald Harwood when the up-coming writer told him he had just delivered a script with his agent all about an old actor-manager and his dresser on a wartime provincial tour, drawing on his days in the Fifties as Sir Donald Wolfit’s personal assistant.

That confident dismissal is another priceless instance of Gielgud’s notorious propensity to say the wrong thing: funny, dark, moving and a veritable gift for actors, The Dresser was a sensation in 1980, and is performed worldwide.

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