01 November 2016
1.5 out of 5.0 stars
I had seen other Branagh Theatre productions before and loved them, so I had no reservations about seeing John Osborne’s post-war play. With Kenneth Branagh as the leading man in this turbulent story about family ties, cultural adversities and a crumbling culture, this should have been a convincing and enjoyable play; yet it falls way short and leaves the audience confused and annoyed.
The Entertainer was written in 1957, amidst vast cultural change, and follows Archie Rice, a cranky music hall performer with a failing career and a crumbling family in a crumbling society. The play loses a lot of its impact by blending the music hall performances with the family scenes seamlessly and thus erasing the contrast between the two sides of Archie.
Branagh plays the failing performer with a lot of charm and energy, which is at odds with the miserable, cranky nature of the character, in turn making it difficult to connect with any of the protagonists.
The show seemed like a messy connection of disconnected plot lines, it really didn’t manage to appeal to any of the viewers I spoke to and many were as confused by this soul-less display as I was. All the ingredients seemed right, yet the result felt hollow and bland.