Writer: John Osbourne
Director: Sean O’ Connor
John Osbourne’s modern classic has been refreshed as the setting moves to the Falklands War. Shane Richie leads a strong performance in this production which continues to have a statement to make.
Shane Richie stars as Archie Rice, a bit of a dreamer but an entertainer struggling to make ends meet, who takes joy from running away from the taxman. Richie is a charming performer and so fits perfectly in the role, particularly at the start as he portrays a happy go lucky performer, taking joy from keeping others entertained. As the production continues, Richie starts to get deeper into the character and actively shows a man starting to lose his way by creating more and more risqué jokes. This represents not only his inevitable downfall but also that of the Country around him.
Between Richie’s solo performances set in the music hall, there are scenes set within his family home and each character represents a slightly different view of British society; from the younger liberalism and anti-war views that Alice Osmanski as Phoebe shares to the judgmental, patriotic and racist views of Billy Rice who Pip Donaghy plays. These characters and their hostility, at times towards each other, create some intensely dramatic moments as each of the views start to become more dominant. At the same time, some of these moments do appear slightly drawn out which means the performance isn’t as punchy as is could be.
Sean O’Connor directs the piece and makes some clear comments about how the world of the media, in particular, skew people’s views. This is shown regularly by the constant projections of headlines throughout. It’s very reflective of the world today, which makes the play relatable to an extent. Moving the setting to the 80s does work and it works well, but perhaps bringing it further forward in time would have made this well-crafted play more accessible to a younger audience.
This revival of John Osborne’s clever play continues to provoke thought and discussion. It’s an insightful production that doesn’t shy away from bold points that Osbourne intended to make when writing. Shane Richie gives a great performance as the central role in this bold play.
A complimentary ticket was given in exchange for this review. This value for money rating is based on the ticket price value of £29.50 + £3 Booking Fee. For more info on this value for money rating please visit here: Introducing a new kind of rating