Amber Lane Press is a small independent publisher specialising in drama. We are based in the Cotswolds market town of Charlbury between Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon, and have been publishing plays and books on the theatre for over 30 years. We have many well-known modern and established dramatists on our list, including 'Biyi Bandele, Steven Berkoff, Ronald Harwood, Julian Mitchell, Martin Sherman, Hugh Whitemore
and Sir Arnold Wesker.

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The Dresser by Ronald Harwood, published by Amber Lane Press

A West-End hit in 1980, Ronald Harwood's play The Dresser has now been adapted for television by Richard Eyre, starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins. It was aired on BBC Two on 31 October 2015 to wide acclaim.

Based on his experience of working as a dresser to the actor-manager Sir Donald Wolfit in the 1950s, Ronald Harwood has created a wickedly funny backstage drama.

The curtain is about to go up in a small regional theatre somewhere in England. It is 1941 and the town has recently been bombed in an air raid. The members of the touring Shakespeare Company are assembled but ‘Sir', who is due on stage as King Lear, appears to be suffering from some sort of breakdown. It falls to Norman, his dresser, to persuade him that the show must go on.


"Ronald Harwood’s backstage drama centred on the relationship between a Shakespearean touring actor-manager and his camp dresser-cum-nanny, is the archetypal well-made play, calculated to appeal to sentimental and sceptical alike.

...The Dresser is immensely entertaining, well crafted and ultimately moving."
~ Martin Hoyle, FT


"...this brilliant piece of television was more than deserving of our full attention.

The actor, identified only as Sir, was played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who delivered an excellent – and terrifying – performance...

Sir Ian McKellen appeared as Norman, the dresser – [he] positively revelled in the role."
~ Amy Burns, Independent


"This was, as Harwood has recently said, a masterclass in acting. It’s also very funny, not least when we get Edward Fox playing against type as surely never before. Adapted and directed by Richard Eyre, this was serious and grownup BBC television for a Saturday night, a mature delight, and I stand and applaud all."
~ Euan Ferguson, The Guardian

The Dresser is available from Amber Lane Press along with Ronald Harwood's biography of the great stage actor that inspired it, Sir Donald Wolfit – His Life and Work in the Unfashionable Theatre.


You can read more about Ronald Harwood and his other plays here.

For information on ordering any of our books please go to our 'How to order' page.



The Business of Murder by Richard Harris publisher Amber Lane Press
Cancer Tales by Nell Dunn ISBN: 1872868355 publisher Amber Lane Press
A Letter of Resignation by Hugh Whitemore published by Amber Lane Press

Every year sees new productions of our most popular plays across the world. These are a few of them. Cancer Tales had its radio debut in 2009 on BBC Radio 4; and a tour of the play by the Strawberry Hill Creative in partnership with Mundipharma Ireland won the Allianz Business to Arts "Creativity" award which was presented by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, in Dublin. Later in the year that other favourite by Nell Dunn – Steaming – was performed by the Bovington Players, Hertfordshire, while Solana Beach, California was the venue for Ronald Harwood's classic backstage drama The Dresser, presented by the North West Repertory Theater. Still on that side of the pond the City of Sumter, South Carolina staged The Business of Murder, as did the Canyon Moon Theatre Company in Sedona, Arizona this January. In 2010 the play was also staged in Portuguese – A Arte do Crime – at the Companhia Teatral do Chiado in Lisbon. Richard Harris’s archetypal suspense thriller last toured Britain extensively in 2008 and remains a perrenial favourite among drama groups and audiences alike – as is Sand Castles. Centred around that most British of institutions, the beach hut, Bob Larbey’s play was produced in 2009 by the Rainham Amateur Theatrical Society, and they were followed by such diverse companies as the Mercia Island Players in West Mercia, and the Basin Theatre Group down under in Mt Dandenong, Victoria. Groups staging Sand Castles in 2010 included The Castle Players in Beaumaris, Gwynedd, the Rackheath Players near Norwich and Limelight Productions in Warminster.

New Boy - adapted from William Sutcliffe's novel by Russell Labey publisher Amber Lane Press
Once a Catholic by Mary O'Malley published by Amber Lane Press
Sand Castles by Bob Larbey publisher Amber Lane Press

Once a Catholic – Mary O’Malley’s popular and hilarious comedy of life in a 1950s London convent school – has probably been performed somewhere every year since its West End premier over 30 years ago. In 2009 it was produced by the Neston players in Cheshire, and by the Loft Theatre Company Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate, London; and last year saw productions by the Little Theatre Company at the Brewhouse, Burton upon Trent, and at the Landor Theatre in Clapham. The latest major revival was staged at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, London, directed by Kathy Burke for two months from November 2013. In 2010 London's Trafalgar Studios were the venue for a staging of New Boy starring Skins star Nicholas Hoult making his West End debut in this tale about the new boy at school, and the sexual and social confusion he sparks. Also at Trafalgar Studios, March 2014 sees the opening of the Chichester Festival Theatre revival of Julian Mitchell's Another Country. 2009 saw revivals of two plays by the prolific writer Hugh Whitemore. God Only Knows was presented by the Company of Ten at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans; and the Nottinghamshire-based Radcliffe-on-Trent Drama Group produced A Letter of Resignation which dramatises the occasion when Harold Macmillan, staying with friends in Scotland, received a political bombshell – a letter of resignation from his war minister, Profumo.

Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig - publisher Amber Lane Press
When She Danced by Martin Sherman published by Amber Lane Press
Speculators by Tony Marchant publisher Amber Lane Press

In 2010 When She Danced by Martin Sherman was staged at the Meli Theatre in Athens, and also in a highly praised version by TimeLine Theatre Company in Chicago. This award-winning play is about one day in the life of "the mother of modern dance" – Isadora Duncan. More recently in the US Trial By Fire TheatreWorks in Oregon produced Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig (translated by Allan Baker); while back in London at the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama there was a timely revival of Tony Marchant's Speculators which is set in the foreign exchange dealing room of a City of London bank.

It is Martin Sherman's modern classic Bent which has been most revived recently having celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2010. There were productions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Rising Action Theatre), Espace 4001 in Montreal (Altera Vitae Productions), and in California at The Empire Theatre in Santa Ana, the Diversionary Theatre in San Diego, and the Nitery Theater at Stanford University. Last year it was staged at the Belvoir Street Downstairs Theatre in Sydney by Focus Theatre to coincide with the annual Mardi Gras Festival. But perhaps the most interesting new production of Bent was at the Landor Theatre in Clapham London last April. The producer and director – Andrew Keates – graduated from drama school in 2009 and through his experience, determination and love of the piece was granted the honour of being the youngest gay director to produce the play professionally in the UK by the playwright himself - Martin Sherman.

Bent by Martin Sherman publisher Amber Lane Press


All our books can be purchased here at a discount.

Submissions and Job Opportunities

Please note that we are not actively publishing at present. Consequently, we no longer wish to receive any unsolicited plays or manuscripts; nor are there any job vacancies of any kind, either in-house or freelance. We also regret that we are not able to offer work experience.

Amber Lane Press Ltd, Church Street, Charlbury, Oxford, UK, OX7 3PR
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