The Entertainer is a three-act play by John Osborne, first produced in 1957. His first play, Look Back in Anger, had attracted mixed notices but a great deal of publicity. Having depicted an “angry young man” in the earlier play, Osborne wrote, at Laurence Olivier’s request, about an angry middle-aged man in The Entertainer. Its main character is Archie Rice, a failing music-hall performer. The first performance was given on 10 April 1957 at the Royal Court Theatre, London. That theatre was known for its commitment to new and nontraditional drama, and the inclusion of a West End star such as Olivier in the cast caused much interest.
To mark the play’s 50th anniversary, Robert Lindsay plays struggling comedian Archie Rice, a music-hall performer in an age when music halls had all but disappeared. Driven by dreams of stardom and a desperation to equal his father’s success, Archie finds himself a man out of time – a selfish, deceitful has-been, headlining a tacky revue in a rundown seaside town. Family tensions rise to a boil as he shamelessly cheats on his wife (Pam Ferris) and tricks his dying father into financing one last revue. But throughout it all, Archie jigs and jabbers before his ever-diminishing audience and does whatever it takes to keep the show going.
David Dawson plays Frank Rice.
The above production and rehearsal photos are copyrighted to The Old Vic. The press night photos are by Getty Images.