The Entertainer

The Vue Cinema presents live from the Garrick!

My first time watching a live stream from a theatre. Most impressed. They even sold ice cream at the interval!

‘The Entertainer’ was John Osborne’s second play and was greeted warmly by the Guardian readers of England! It contains Osborne’s usual rants about class privilege, the Royal family, the establishment. The usual left-wing targets. It was supposedly a metaphor for a decaying country floundering in the dying embers of a lost Empire. A play with a message in fact. Sadly for Osborne and his cohorts the message was swept away by the cultural revolution of the early sixties* as British music and fashion ruled the world. Grey Britain of the fifties was no more. Play for Today on the BBC tried to continue the left-wing messages started by Osborne. The chattering classes tutted in the right places while the rest of the nation tuned into Radio1! The Entertainer is a play out of its time. It has no message for the 21st century.

 

However as a standalone play it is worth watching when it stars Kenneth Branagh. Our Ken is one of a select few mesmeric actors. Whoever else is speaking on stage you watch him. I was fortunate enough to see him live at the Garrick earlier in the year. John Malkovitch is another along with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith so great is their stage presence. I feel privileged to have seen them all on stage.

 

As Archie Rice Branagh gives his all. In fact at times he perhaps gives too much. He is supposed to be a failing music hall star yet at times his performance belies that fact. He is at his best in the domestic scenes playing against the ensemble cast. As his long suffering wife Phoebe Greta Scacchi gives a performance to remember. Not so with Sophie McShera . As Daisy in Downton Abbey she often stole the scene but here she shouts most of her lines when shouting is not called for. There is no nuance in her performance which is set at full-on it seemed. Gawn Grainger as Billy Rice has most of the best lines and represents the Osborne stereotype of the bigoted working class man. Dear old John Osborne did not just look back in anger it seems he looked in every direction.

 

I enjoyed the play for its performance but did not come out thinking a new dawn had broken in the theatre. Around the time of Osborne’s angry tirades one Robert Zimmerman was informing anybody who would listen that the times were a-changing. And indeed they might have been but here in the 21st century Bob revolution just aint in the air!

 

 

  • 1963 was probably the year it all started. Anyway it is an excuse for me to present my poem 1963. Those of you who were kind enough to buy my book on Kindle will have read it. For those of you who are not Kindle readers here is what you missed….

 

                                                     1963

 

The painful penitence of war had been repaid and new times were a-changing.

Artists, actors, singers, scribes, writers, rogues; and fashionistas too,

As one they frolicked down that road to find freedom and its new age.

This was the moment to be young and alive as we became a part

Of that bright arc of history in the making.

 

We all loved it yeah! yeah!! yeah!!!

 

New ideas, new sounds, new looks, a non-stop roller-coaster

Riding across the kaleidoscope of change. The skirts were short and

The world was high as change at a pace became too fast for some.

Moments like this occur but once in a generation should Jupiter be aligned

With Mars. The age was ours and we claimed it all with grasping glee.

 

We had the best of it and I was there; but where were you… in nineteen sixty-three?

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The Entertainer”

  1. Just 7yrs old,walking everyday to school and stopping to watch the steam trains on they’re way to Millbay station.Oh those were the days not a care in the world.

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