AN updated version of a classic play, The Entertainer, is coming to Malvern Theatres, and Shane Richie will star.

Updated it might be, but the critics are already hailing the production as a “state of the nation” play, even though the action is set more than three decades ago, in Thatcher’s Britain.

In fact it’s 1982, and Archie Rice is a washed-up entertainer playing a summer season.

A spokesman said: “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.

“Shane Richie takes on the role memorably created on stage and screen by Laurence Olivier, alongside Diana Vickers and the Olivier award-winning Sara Crowe.”

The spokesman added: “For the first time since its premiere in 1957, John Osborne’s classic is given a vibrant new setting and an electric new vision in Sean O’Connor’s exciting production.

“From the writer of Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer was chosen as one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century by Michael Billington (chief theatre critic of The Guardian).”

And it is still impressing the critics today.

As an Evening Standard review put it: “The Entertainer is as British as a seaside postcard with as much to say today as it did then.”

Shane Richie is perhaps best known as an actor from the TV soap, EastEnders.

He played the character of Alfie Moon in EastEnders from 2002 to 2005, and returned to the role from 2010 to 2016 and then again from 2018 to this year, making him one of the soap’s most familiar faces.

He has also hosted a number of BBC games shows and regularly appears in pantomime.

The Entertainer will enjoy a run at Malvern Theatres from September 9 to September 14.

Tickets and further details are available from the box office: 01684 892277.