pip and archie

Pip Donaghy as Billy Rice and Shane Richie as Archie Rice

The Entertainer

Malvern Theatres


Shane Richie, of EastEnders fame, leads a new production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer  which tours into Malvern Theatres this week with its thought-provoking and honest portrayal of a washed-up failure.

The original was set during Britain’s divide over the Suez Crisis in 1956 and has now been updated to 1982 amongst the atrocities of the Falklands War.

Archie Rice is an established touring stand-up comic who in the midst of political crisis and a turbulent family life tragically becomes aware of a shifting audience where his balloon animal jokes are groaned at and numbers deplete along with his popularity in uncertain times.

Mother-in-law jokes, immigration and politics were the staple of Rice’s bad taste humour and an unpopular view of his onlookers caused uncomfortable glances and awkward laughter tinged with feelings of sympathy.

A marriage on the rocks to Phoebe Rice, Sara Crowe, pushes him to hook up with barmaids half his age, much to the disappointment of daughter Jean Rice, Diana Vickers and son Frank Rice, Christopher Bonwell. His father, past stage star Billy Rice, Pip Donaghy, struggles to keep his family together and can’t stop worrying about his soldier nephew fighting a battle far from home.

Those were the days, but everyone didn’t leave with a smile on their face as the stark reality proves rather hard for some to bear. Powerfully moving and Shane Richie’s performance as Margaret Thatcher is certainly one to see with your own eyes but definitely don’t try to match the cast drink for drink.

You’ll be over the ‘Alfie Moon’ with this innovative adaptation directed by Sean O’Connor, which is as relevant now as it was when it first premiered in 1957 at the Royal Court Theatre in London with Laurence Olivier playing the washed-up Archie.

Don’t be left behind by this very British play and join Shane Richie as Archie Rice in The Entertainer at Malvern Theatres until Saturday 14th September. Tickets are available from the box office on 01684 892277 or online at malvern-theatres.co.uk.

Emma Trimble


The tour includes Wolverhampton Grand 7-12 October and Coventry Belgrade 15-19 October. 

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