Look Back in Anger by John Osborne. A Next Stage production at The Mission Theatre, Bath, directed by Ann Ellison, Tuesday 16th January – Saturday 20th, 7.30pm, with Saturday matinee at 2pm.
Was this the most iconic play of the 20th century? It’s certainly up there, signalling the demise of drawing room drama and Received Pronunciation, giving way to the advent of social realism and the regional dialects to go with it. And on come Courtenay, Finney, Bates, Harris et al to delight us for the next 50 years.
So, written in 1956, is it still relevant or just a period piece? And the answer is…yes, just as powerful and relevant as ever. There are still unhappy marriages and the class system.
Jimmy Porter lives with his wife, Alison, in a cramped flat with his friend Cliff. On a boring Sunday evening working class Jimmy indulges in his favourite pastime of baiting middle class Alison who refuses to be provoked. This, of course, infuriates him further, and thus life proceeds with Cliff acting as peacemaker explaining, “He gets on with me because I’m common.”
When actress friend Helena visits, the temperature and tantrums increase though Alison tells her friend, “Don’t take his suffering away from him, he’d be lost without it.”
It’s a tour de force for the Next Stage team, with Richard Matthews on exceptional form as Jimmy, backed up well by Hannah Smyth (Alison), Jon Yardley (Cliff), Lydia Cook (Helena) and David Holt as Alison’s sympathetic father.
Never a bundle of laughs, it’s well worth seeing, particularly if you missed this important play first time around.