In The Observer, Kenneth Tynan wrote, "Mr Osborne has had the big and brilliant notion of putting the whole of contemporary England onto one and the same stage ... He chooses, as his national microcosm, a family of run-down vaudevillians. Grandad, stately and retired, represents Edwardian graciousness, for which Mr Osborne has a deeply submerged nostalgia. But the key figure is Dad, a fiftyish song-and-dance man reduced to appearing in twice-nightly nude revue." The Manchester Guardian was lukewarm, finding the climax of the play "banal" but added, "Sir Laurence brings to the wretched hero a wonderful sniggering pathos now and then and ultimately gives the little figure some tragic size. It is no great play but no bad evening either."The Times made no connection between the play and the condition of post-Imperial Britain, regarding it as almost "the sombre, modern equivalent of Pinero's Trelawny of the Wells." By the time of the 1974 revival, The Times was agreeing with Tynan: "Everyone remembers The Entertainer for its brilliant equation between Britain and a dilapidated old music hall," but added that the play is also "one of the best family plays in our repertory."
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