29 August 2019

The Entertainer - Curve Review

John Osborne's play The Entertainer arrives at Curve ahead of a UK Tour.
Shane Richie as Archie Rice. Photo by Helen Murray.
The Made at Curve production gives the play a new setting in 1982, where washed-up entertainer Archie Rice has completed a summer season whilst his soldier son is away fighting in the Falklands and his daughter Jean returns from campaigning against the war.

Whilst I felt first act was a bit tepid, full of the characters drinking excessively and arguing with each other which felt like it had no purpose except to show the conflict of the characters. I much prefered the second act where it felt the story moved along and added more emotion. I felt more invested in Archie's characters arc, especially in the moving final sequences.

Shane Richie is excellent as Archie. He clearly revels in every moment in this character, forget the famous names who have previously played this role (Laurence Olivier originated the role), Shane absolutely makes it his own. He nails the characteristics of this broken entertainer. He delivers the stand-up sequences excellently oozing out every comic detail superbly and also shows off his brilliant vocal range.

Diana Vickers as Jean Rice. Photo by Helen Murray.
Diana Vickers is spellbinding as Jean Rice. She's such a wonderful actress to watch. You feel the pain of Jean and the suffering she's gone through from her family life. Towards the end of act two as Jean confronts Archie you can see the pain etched on her face. A rising star for sure.

Sara Crowe's beautifully brings a touching quality to Phoebe Rice. Pip Donaghy's both charming and senile Billy Rice. Christopher Bonwell add's fine support as Frank Rice.

The play is very relevant to modern audiences and it's great that the play has been given this new setting for this new production, it really works. Director Sean O'Connor has done a fine job staging this challenging play with a great design team (Tim Mitchell lighting design, Chris James sound design and Lizzie Frankl prop supervisor).

Top: Diana Vickers (Jean) and Pip Donaghy (Billy), Christopher Bonwell (Frank)
Bottom: Sara Crowe (Phoebe) and Diana Vickers (Jean), Shane Richie (Archie)
and Sara Crowe (Phoebe). Photos by Helen Murray.

It is ultimately a marmite production, some left at the interval whilst other's roared with approval at the end.

Rating: ★★★ - excellent performances shine in this difficult play.

The Entertainer runs at Curve until Saturday 31st August before heading on a UK Tour until the end of November. For dates and booking details click here.

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