WHEN two actors walk onto a stage sometimes you just know the production is going to be good.

The chemistry between Matthew Kelly and Julian Clary in the Everyman's The Dresser provides one such occasion.

The show follows the sad demise of Sir, an ageing actor and his dresser Norman during the second world war as they put on a production of King Lear. The parts could have been written for Clary and Kelly as they put on a masterclass on how to deliver Ronald Harwood's busy and complicated script with aplomb.

The story is a sad one with touching performances from Clary as the down trodden dresser to an old grumpy Kelly who simply cannot leave the glories of his past behind.

Sir and Norman's relationship is so close and tender yet fraught with fragility after years of companionship, it takes two very special actors to truly encompass all the complicated emotions and Kelly and Clary put in five star performances keeping the Cheltenham audiences enthralled - you could hear a pin drop during their interactions.

Kelly was verbose and frail at the same time, using his large frame excellently to portray the last days of a once great actor and Clary drew upon his natural charm and tenderness towards the actor - Sir - he was clearly in awe of.

As the great Shakespearean tragedies unfolded for Sir's touring production company Samuel Holmes as Mr Oxenby and Natalie Servat as Irene both played their parts to Kelly and Clary's masterclass on performance well.

The set and costume design by Tim Shortall was perfect - from Sir's dishevelled robes as King Lear and the wonderfully evocative green room the dresser shared with his master captured the mood of a provincial theatre in 1942 perfectly.

Only a perfectly performed relationship between two men could make this a pacy show and Kelly and Clary did not disappoint. Kelly was both irritating and loveable as Sir while Clary was a great foil for him as the dresser.

Touching and charming this production left me feeling warm and entertained and that is all you can ask for from a show at the glorious Everyman Theatre. People are slowly coming back to the theatre and the Everyman deserves our support as they recover from the covid pandemic.

If you would like to book tickets or find out what is coming up at the Everyman please visit their website at everymantheatre.org.uk