The Entertainer - performed January 1996

By John Osbourne

Performed with the kind permission of Samuel French

Director - Dennis Murfitt


(in order of appearance)

Billy Rice Bert Yeats
Jean Rice Judy Hussey
Phoebe Rice Viv Wheatley
Archie Rice Dennis Murfitt
Frank Rice Adrian Bolton
William Rice (bill) David Turrell
Graham Dodd Simon Colbourne
Britannia Allison Hawkins

Production Team

Val Taylor, Viv Wheatley, David Warner, Jenny Rollings. Patience Ling, Greg Garrod, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Trevor Amos, Geoffrey Taylor, Kevin Brown, Gill BAxter, Pamela Talbot-Ashby.

The Play


The entertainer was a comedy drama with music set in a coastal resort in the 1050's and revolving around a third rate music hall comedian Archie Rice, struggling to survive in the dying business. And early on the players struggled themselves to win the audiences attention, as the opening scenes were made to look almost flatulent. But by the end of the first act, Dennis Murfitt, who turned in a first rate performance as Archie had breathed some life into the show as the pace quickened.
Behind the dressing room door, Archie's family life, like his career, was held together by a tentative thread, as he neared financial collapse. From then on the direction tightened up and the play, written by John Osborne, began to take shape.
There were some good exchanges between grandad Billy Rice - a disgruntled retired performer and sounding very much like Alf Garnett - and Archie. The message of the play, probing as much the decline of Britain as of the music hall, came as Archie, growing more drunk, reveals how thin his jokes have worn and how purposeless his life really is.
Ian Pickering

INEVITABLY and indelibly associated with the Olivier performance, John Osborne’s already long play, probing the persona and relationships of a seedy, fading comedian, is given a two-interval drawn-out presentation by this enterprising and ambitious society.
The first act is frankly desultory, almost a basis for negotiation between certain slightly unsure players and even more static than the limitations of the stage decree so that there is no conceivable danger of "the bloody Poles" from downstairs coming up to sort thing out. The second act, however, finds the cast much better adjusted to each other and the genuine Osborne style, flaring with angry comment and harsh complaint, sparks into lively expression.

Dennis Murfitt, who also directs the play, has the inestimable advantage of looking the part exactly with his sad clown face and defensive eyes and develops the hollowness of Archie Rice as well as the desperate seeking after some sort of value which will give his life point and meaning. His long speech about the negress whose soul singing brought his single moment of revelation is beautifully done, as it his concluding "paradise" story but his not quite sure how hard to push his music hall interludes and something as simple as a Max Miller type jacket, rather than the elegant grey suit that does duty throughout, might well have given just the extra boost to the playing in this particular area.
Viv Wheatley makes him a very telling pathetic wife, Phoebe, and Judy Hussey an intensely composed, almost priggish daughter by his first marriage. Bert Yeates, constantly going over old ground, is an irritating but indomitable reminder of the great days of music hall in his emblematically gleaming patent-leather shoes and there is a sturdy attack from the already defeated Frank played with heavily-withheld emphasis by Adrian Bolton.
Alison Hawkins has something of a triumph as the increasingly bored Britannia, introducing the sequences with a tiny original variation each time, though for a production which does not shirk the abundance of bad language in the play, the retention of her amusingly laddered tight and straining satin costume during the statutory nude pose for "The battle will be won" seems a trifle faint-hearted.
Jimmy James

Photo Shoot

(David, Allison, Viv, Simon, Jude, Bert, Adrian, Dennis)