Follow Us on Twitter

Shane Richie to play Archie Rice in the UK tour of The Entertainer

The Entertainer - Shane Richie as Archie Rice. Photo credit: Helen Maybanks.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

SHANE Richie will play Archie Rice in a brand-new production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer – chosen as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century by Michael Billington.

Directed by Sean O’Connor, this innovative adaptation will open at Curve on August 27, 2019 and then tour the UK until November. For the first time since its premiere in 1957, this classic play will be given a vibrant new setting.

1982: Archie Rice is a washed-up entertainer playing a summer season. As his soldier son sails with the Task Force to liberate the Falklands, his daughter Jean returns from campaigning against the war, and Archie’s professional and personal lives collide with devastating consequences.

Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said: “Osborne’s masterpiece was first presented in 1957 and alongside Archie Rice’s failing career, invited the audience to consider its own culture and what it meant to be English at a time of huge shifts within British society. Times have clearly changed, but as our country faces one of the most tumultuous periods since the end of the Second World War, the play once again captures the zeitgeist and is tantalisingly ripe for revival.

“It’s a thrilling play – epic and filled with humanity – and provides Shane Richie with a role he was born to play; we know it will be an hilarious and heartbreaking performance. We are also thrilled to welcome director Sean O’Connor to Curve, whose compelling vision for the play will reveal it afresh to an entirely new generation.”

Shane Richie said: “Following in the black patent shoes of Olivier, Gambon, Lindsay and Branagh, it’s an incredible honour to be asked to play one of literatures greatest fictional characters, Archie Rice. In the words of the great man himself “you’re a long time dead, let’s just whoop it up!“

Sean O’Connor said: “Osborne’s story of a man who faces the end of his career in the declining days of a popular art form in the context of Britain struggling to establish its place on the international stage has never seemed more relevant or more timely.

“Against the backdrop of the Falklands War of 1982, the satirical new world of alternative comedy has dismissed Archie’s style of humour and his sort of act as old–fashioned and even offensive. The mother-in-law joke has been outlawed and a generation of entertainers like Archie have suddenly found themselves irrelevant.

“At the same time, in the wake of recent abuse scandals, a certain cultural attitude – and a certain sort of man – has been exposed as outmoded and redundant; this is an Entertainer for 2019.

“It’s a tribute to Osborne’s genius that this play resonates beyond the historical moment it was written in and speaks to us directly today with such prescience, power and truth. It’s THE state of the nation play, but it’s also a moving examination of family and failure as well as a defiant roar in the face of the relentless inevitability of change.

“I’m hugely excited to bring this new vision of one of the 20th century’s finest plays to the stage and completely thrilled to have secured Shane – one of the great entertainers of today – to play one of the most iconic roles in British theatre.”

Shane Richie has balanced a hugely successful forty year career between theatre, film and TV; and he has been a regular fixture on prime time television hosting such shows as Lucky Numbers, The Shane Richie Experience, Win, Lose or Draw, Don’t Forget the Lyrics!, Reflex and Win Your Wish List.

He is currently playing Hugo/Loco Chanelle in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre. His other theatre credits include Grease (West End), One Flew over The Cuckoo’s Nest (UK Tour), Scrooge: The Musical (UK Tour), and Lone Star and Private Wars (King’s Head Theatre). He also played the leads in Peter James’ The Perfect Murder and Not Dead Enough as well as co-writing and co-producing the UK tour of Boogie Nights, which went on to enjoy a sell-out season at the Savoy Theatre in the West End.

However, Richie is perhaps best known for his role as Alfie Moon in the BBC’s EastEnders which he first started playing in 2002 and for which he has won several industry awards and accolades including Best Actor at the Rose d’Or Television Festival.

The Entertainer is a co-production between Curve, Anthology Theatre, and Simon Friend Entertainment.

Further casting and creatives will be announced in due course.

Following the Curve dates (August 27-31), The Entertainer will tour to Milton Keynes, Malvern, Plymouth, Woking, Eastbourne, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Brighton, Manchester, Bromley, Cheltenham and Shrewsbury.

Image: The Entertainer – Shane Richie as Archie Rice. Photo credit: Helen Maybanks.