The first season of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company promises a year of unmissable theatre.
Working in collaboration with artistic associates, director Rob Ashford and designer Christopher Oram, the acclaimed actor-director Kenneth Branagh presents an exceptional series of five plays that bring together a remarkable group of actors, led by Rob Brydon, Judi Dench, Lily James and Richard Madden.
By John Osborne
Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, John Osborne’s modern classic conjures the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an explosive examination of public masks and private torment.
Rob Ashford directs Kenneth Branagh as the unforgettable Archie Rice.
Click here to read five reasons to see The Entertainer!
It was a fantastic play, Keneth Branagh was an utter star.
It's a peculiar play, but Branagh and the rest of the cast, put in good performances and I think got to the heart of the characters.
It was really dated and boring. Kenneth Branagh was great but he was in it so little compared to the rest of the cast who were average. We had really expensive seats at the front but left at half time.
Few can pull it off with such aplomb, singing, dancing, mimicking, stand-up comedy and acting from a versatile actor, Kenneth Branagh, with an enthusiastic supporting cast. The play draws on issues such as honour, duty and family cohesion without sentimentality or tears.
I was in the stalls near the front and I loved being so close to the actors! This play was amazing and Kenneth Branagh was fanastic playing the lead role as Archie. He really brought out the playfulness of the character as well as his faults.
This state of the nation play - set around the time of Suez - still resonates in the context of a mid-Brexit Britain (and perhaps even for those in a pre-Trumpian America) where established roles and ways of life are in conflict with a changing world. Branagh allows us to empathise with Archie's increasingly desperate life: his performance shows a rare melding of wit, subtlety and energy. Strong supporting performances from Gawn Grainger (Billy) and Greta Scacchi (Phoebe) - the latter swilling down the gin as she struggles with a peripatetic life in digs and with Archie's philandering. An interesting set design allows us to see Archie Rice's professional and personal lives juxtaposed.
I enjoyed the performance but felt it was a bit long & abstract. I felt it could be more lively.
WE thoroughly enjoyed the play and thought the whole cast were very impressive
Very moving portrayal of the social and political changes at the time. Kenneth Branagh was superb as Archie.
Kenneth Branagh was superb as was the actress who played his wife, Phoebe. But, I found the play a bit tedious overall. Perhaps this was because I am not British and it was so closely related to events in the 1950's.
For the first time ever we left the theatre at the interval as did some other people. The play was dated and the production and performances were pedestrian. The feeling of the end of empire and generational conflict that form the basis of the play lacked impact. Family conflict that was cutting edge in the 1950's is now commonplace through daily TV soap operas. We were bored. A rare failure for Kenneth Branagh.
The pace of the performance was spot on and superbly delivered. We were up close and personal in row C and Kenneth Branagh's, Gawn Granger and Greta Saachi's acting prowess were invincible . Worth every penny. Thank you.
Kenneth Brannagh was phenomenal!! A wonderful show. Highly recommend.
Kenneth Branagh was very good his daughter was not poor her voice sounded more like amateur dramatics at a local scout hut thought play was very dated what else can I say not to my taste My Wife on the other hand thought it was brilliant she possibly has a better understanding
Great story. More about family relationships than declining type of entertainment. Kenneth Branagh was excellent, of course, well supported by the superb Greta Scacchi and others. I loved this production.
4 of saw this production - 2 enjoyed it and 2 hated it. Branagh was excellent but the play I found boring and pointless. It had no plot , no development and nothing to keep me interested just endless conversation leading nowhere.
Really strong performances by Branagh, Scaatchi and Grainger but Sophie McShera's Jean was disappointing. The wooden, expressionless performance ( surely not deliberate?) created no empathy with the character and meant that the burst of attack on her father towards the end of the play failed to resonate, leaving one agreeing with the sentiment of the son to ' leave him alone' when there should have been a much more nuanced balance of sympathy between the two characters. And was Branagh's skilful dancing and singing just a bit too good for Archie Rice, who should perhaps just miss the mark? Nevertheless a masterclass as ever from Branagh, and a 'mam' who was a tender, fragile and vulnerable sot, with depth and humanity from Scaatchi. Lovely characterisation by Grainger, whose deft and constant virtual monologue of banter at the beginning of the play was so well executed. One tip....sit further back than the third row; whilst wonderful to be so close to Branagh's performance ( I could see his 'stage' eye make up) I got a bit of a crick in the neck!
Booked on line with from the box office, didn't receive confirmation email. I called them left 2 messages as noone answered the phone after waiting in queues. Emailed ingresso as the performance was that evening and I still didnt know if they had confirmed the booking, still no reply received. Tried to ring theatre box office got through to another booking agent who kindly gave me the booking reference.
Loved it ! Exceeded expectations! Even though a Branagh fan quite a surprise to see such great dancing and hear such good unaccompanied singing alongside Osborne's kitchen sink drama . GREAT ENTERTAINMENT
Fantastic show that had me absorbed. However it was being filmed for live showings at cinemas which was intrusive with a suspended camera. Kenneth Branagh was magnificent balancing the complex character that the audience grew to pity.
Amazing performance by Kenneth Branagh and all the cast.Enjoyable, entertaining.True class and energy.I felt like I want to be there on a stage with them.
Great show and Technicaly Very good. And of course great performances.
We sat in the cheap seats with "restricted view" but didn't feel we were missing out at all. Although in this production you sometimes can't see one actor because the auditorium curves around, it didn't feel like it mattered. The Garrick Theatre was the perfect place for this play as it echoed the music hall setting in the theatre as well as on the stage. The cast were incredible - I never knew Kenneth Branagh could dance like that!
Kenneth Branagh, Greta Scacchi & Gawn Grainger very good in an excellent staging of this play. We thought the younger cast members much weaker than the older. Is this because younger actors are so used to TV & film work where they do not have to project their voices? Don't they teach voice production at drama school any more?? Although we were in the stalls we found the young actress playing Jean had such a weak & reedy voice which made a lot of her speeches difficult to hear.
All the performers were excellent and to see Kenneth Branagh acting a different role was really interesting
A great performance by a very talented cast - loved the production. Look forward to another Kenneth Branagh season!
"The Entertainer" was a good production and well worth seeing.
As one would expect Ken Branagh performed magnificently ( makings of a hoofer?) with a good supporting cast and good staging. And while I do get the 1956 context and its ( possible ) contemporary applications I found much of Osbornes' family row dialogue cliché'd and dated- and unfunny. We have had all that in TV soaps for years so the freshness and any shock impact it may have had in 1956 is very stale. Second half much better than the first and better performed perhaps because the content is more dramatic and tragic.
Wonderful!! Fantastic performance by all, but particularly by Sir Ken!!!
Excellent performance by all especially Greeta Sachi.
Absolutely brilliant. The whole cast were fabulous. But branagh was just mesmerising as archie rice, the opening scene will stick in my head forever. I could watch that man all day!!! if anyone gets the chance to see it do so. The garrick theatre is a lovely venue.
best acting i have seen in London theatre .. very subtle and driven . They seemed to inspire each other to really reach into Osborne and show a highly nuanced and wonderful play.
We were very much looking forward to seeing Kenneth Branagh in this iconic role made famous by Laurence Olivier but I'm afraid the play hasn't aged well. It would be historically incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't read up on the story first. However, I'm glad we saw it and there were stand-out performances from Greta Scacchi and Gawn Grainger although I feel this probably wasn't one of Branagh's greatest roles.
I thought this production absolutely superb.. the staging, the set up and use of screens- brilliant. Branagh stole the show for me though. His acting, persona, presence was perfection. He knows how to entertain and he most certainly did. I didnt even know he could tap dance so eloquently. If there were any set backs/negatives i have to say Sophie McSheera. I loved her in Downton Abbey and expected a lot from her.. maybe that was where i went wrong. Her tone/pitch in her voice eventually wound me up so much i found i was switching off when she spoke. The pitch stayed high and moany all the way through. Very samey and disappointing. I understand Gee Rice is very moany but there are other ways of percieving this. Other than that.. the other cast members supported Branagh superbly and added to his grand stage presence. Wonderful work.. truely enjoyed myself.
Kenneth Branagh and Greta Scacchi were utterly amazing. Branagh lived up to my high expectations. I hope his company returns next year. Although how the cast cope with an almost constant roar from the underground I don't know.
A brilliant play. Branagh and Scacchi are superb. As are all the cast. Really worth seeing.
A great production, brilliantly executed. Was totally drawn in to this John Osborne play. Masterfully done. Excellent casting and staging. Kenneth Branagh did not disappoint.
Ken Branagh and Greta Scacchi were very good, but this time I thought the support was not as strong as it should have been. I think it might have been the play. It was the only one of the productions where I did not leave the theatre thinking how superb it was. I am really sorry about this because I think the others were really fantastic and I hope the company continues. I look forward to seeing more productions next year.
We actually bought our tickets a year ago and had been looking forward to the play very much. Unfortunately, we were disappointed in it primarily because we thought that Kenneth Branagh was not right for the role of Archie. He came across as too young and vigorous, and there was not much sense of the character's underlying seediness and neediness.
Definately Ken stole the show...I thought a couple of the younger members of the cast were slightly below par. They seemed to be saying the lines with no feeling or anger. The direction in the home was disappointing but Kens vaudeville scenes with the girls were excellent. Overall I really enjoyed it ....
It was very easy to access the web page and buy tickets few days in advance. When we arrive at box office the tickets were waiting for us, a half hour before the event. It was really a good experience.
Kenneth Branagh is superb in this production. The set design is beautifully simple, but fitting every need of the play. I would definitely recommend going to see it.
Kenneth Branagh was brilliant and we really enjoyed the performance. The rest of the cast were great too although we found it difficult at times to catch all of the lines delivered by the actress who played Jean, as her voice was quite high pitched! Overall a really good show and great to see Kenneth Branagh performing live. Lovely theatre too.
The excellent actors evoked strong memories of the faded Music Hall and the norms of the 1950s, striking a chord with those in the audience who could recall the times. The race issues of the period added a contempoary edge for younger people, and an insight into the total change in society, culture and leisure opportunities since that time. Kenneth Branagh captured every emotion in a seamless performance, portraying the fated Archie with total rapport.
Just a word. Sublime! Fascinating, charming, breathtaking... great performance of Greta Scacchi but Ken is unique and very moving.
Could hear very poorly on the fist row a of dress circle left the show at the end of act 1
Kenneth Branagh is amazing in this production. I laughed and cried. I regret that I did not see the previous plays earlier in the season.
I wasn't around in 1956 but the Entertainer is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago. In this modern age racist and homophobic language rightly does not feature in the media or in the theatre. But it does exist and Little Englanders still get house room with the not so quite EDL /BNP/UKIP. So Osbourne's play is a realistic up to date reflection of today's society. Mick's capture and death was so poignant when we remember those kidnapped and murdered by ISIS and even the days of Hostages in the Lebanon. Archie and his penchant for the younger woman resonant of Stars shamed for inappropriate conduct with young girls (and boys). KB just makes it look so easy and natural. Great head of hair Ken!! A moving production.
Branagh was at the top of his game with very strong support from rest of the cast. The play fared less well, didn't transcend its era and very little for younger theatre goers to relate to.
Garrick Theatre, 2 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0HH
No exchanges or refunds after purchase.
Gawn Grainger is playing Billy Rice and replaces John Hurt who, on the advice of his doctors, recently had to withdraw from the production. Also joining the company will be Jonah Hauer-King as Frank Rice, Sophie McShera as Jean Rice and Greta Scacchi as Phoebe Rice.
Good To Know
Please Note : If you select Post as delivery method the tickets will not be sent out until two weeks before the performance.
When Can I Go
20 August 2016 – 12 November 2016
Where Do I Go
Garrick Theatre, 2 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0HH
By Tube- Leicester Square or Charing Cross
By Train- Charing Cross
By Bus-3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 15, 24, 29, 30