STAGE REVIEW: The Entertainer - at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Monday, September 9 to Saturday, September 14, 2019.

ARCHIE Rice, who is ‘the entertainer’, is all washed up but there is nothing here to suggest that playwright John Osborne’s compelling offering is heading either over the hill or simply to the end of pier.

This brand-new production is still in a class of its own and provides a vivid performance by Shane Richie which is complimented by excellent support from the rest of the cast.

The characters are irresistible and the audience is drawn into their 1980`s parlour for a fly on the wall drama that spills out into the performance of Richie’s Rice and follows his life gradually spiralling out of control and accelerating towards self-destruction

Rice is also a complex character who resents his audience.

It’s 1982 and his son has sailed with the Task Force to the Falklands, while his daughter returns from campaigning against the war.

Their worlds collide - Parliament is in crisis with the Falklands issue. Ring any bells? And look out for the appearance of Margaret Thatcher (not as you expect).

The show is delivered with compelling reality as Richie leads the audience through a roller-coaster of emotions and enjoyment, at times cringing at the character and gags of Archie. They say the old ones are the best. The audience is left to judge for itself.

His daughter returns home, minus her fiancée, from campaigning against the war and desperate to resolve the family conflicts, but with Archie on the edge of a breakdown this is not likely to happen. 

The family receive a telegram with disturbing news. Drinks are the order of the day and flow throughout the performance with the audience anticipating what might come next.

Outstanding and full performances come from all the cast.

The 1980`s set is excellent with attention to detail and all in all this and the play provides a wonderful atmosphere for the time.