The Entertainer

Definition

Theater

  • A tragicomedy by John Osborne, first performed in1957 at the Royal Court Theatre with Laurence Olivier inthe title role of the seedy music hall comic Archie Rice.Olivier's decision to play the part represented a deliberate attemptto extend his range beyond the dignified classical roles in whichhe had previously excelled. When Olivier took the play to Broadway'sRoyale Theatre two years later, the New York critic Brooks Atkinsonwrote, "If anyone doubts that Laurence Olivier is a versatileactor, consider the subject closed." Olivier went on to starin the film version (1960). There was a major revival at the Old Vicin 2007, staring Robert Lindsay.

    Osborne's story is set in 1956 in an English coastal resort.The Rice family struggles along as Archie continues his blatantlybad comic routines in the local halls. The play reflects the declineof Britain's political and economic roles and the rise of new formsof popular entertainment.

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