October 8-24, 1970
The Entertainer exists on two levels. On the first level is an examination of a personal failure. On the second level it is a description of a national failure.
Symbolic plays pure and simple don't interest me very much and I have therefore concentrated on the personal problems of Archie Rice – a tired vaudeville comedian who produces his shows in the English provinces. Surrounding Archie Rice are his family, a gin sodden and deserted wife, a daughter who craves some kind of committment, and aging father who lives in a world of Edwardian order, and a son who has refused to be drafted. The other reference to England as a decaying old music hall is only revealed in the concentrated examination of the lives of the Rice family.
It is possible to characterize The Entertainer as beign out of Chekhov by way of The Crazy Gang.
– Christopher Newton