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Shane Richie to play Archie Rice in The Entertainer

Published: 19 February 2019

Shane Richie will play Archie Rice in a new production of John Osborne's The Entertainer which opens at Leicester’s Curve in August before a UK tour.

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 literature’s 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!’”

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 World War II, 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’re 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.”

O'Connor commented, “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 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.”

The Entertainer is a co-production between Curve, Anthology Theatre and Simon Friend Entertainment. It will open at Curve from 27 until 31 August and then tours to Milton Keynes Theatre, Malvern Festival Theatre, Plymouth Theatre Royal, Woking’s New Victoria Theatre, Eastbourne Theatres, Wolverhampton Grand, Coventry’s Belgrade, Brighton Theatre Royal, Manchester Opera House, Churchill Theatre, Bromley, Cheltenham Everyman and Shrewsbury’s Severn Theatre until 23 November.

Steve Orme