Monday, 5 September 2016

The Entertainer

The last in Kenneth Branagh's season of plays at the Garrick is John Osborne's 'The Entertainer' , and I went to see it at the weekend.

I booked it some time ago, as originally, John Hurt was due to appear, but sadly he had to withdraw for health reasons, which was a disappointment.

However, the cast still included Branagh (Archie Rice) Greta Scacchi (Phoebe Rice) Gawn Granger (Billy Rice) and Sophie McShera (Jean Rice) 

It's not a play I am familiar with, so I went in with a completely open mind.

And left a little disappointed - the play (for those unfamiliar with it) it set during the Suez crisis, with Britain's place in the world declining, and features Branagh as Archie Rice, fading and failing music hall entertainer and womaniser - I felt Branagh was more convincing as the music hall artiste than in conveying the despair and failure of Rice in his private life, and felt that Sophie McShera as his daughter Jean, visiting following her split from her fiance after attending a protest in Trafalgar square, made a somewhat unconvincing rebel.

Gawn Granger as Rice's father was very strong, as was Greta Scacchi as Rice's long-suffering wife, but over all I felt it it was weaker than some of the other productions in the season, and didn't quite achieve the sort of quiet desperation which a  lot of the script seem to require.

I wanted to enjoy it a lot more than I actually enjoyed it!

(The play is at the Garrick until 12th November)

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