The seminal British drama of the 20th century, Look Back in Anger, written by young emerging playwright John Osborne, exploded onto London’s post-war theatrical landscape in the midst of silly comedies and splashy musicals. It took no prisoners and gave no quarter, mercilessly skewering the leftover relics of the Edwardian class system while blazing a trail for every British dramatist who followed. The play was a huge success, and spawned the term “angry young men” to describe Osborne and those of his generation who employed the harshness of realism in the theatre in contrast to the more escapist theatre that characterized the previous generation.
Osborne’s work transformed British theatre, influencing generations of playwrights including Edward Albee and Mike Leigh. He helped to make theatre artistically respected again, throwing off the formal constraints of the former generation, and turning attention once more to language, theatrical rhetoric, and emotional intensity. He saw theatre as a weapon with which ordinary people could break down the class barriers and that he had a ‘beholden duty to kick against the pricks’. He wanted his plays to be a reminder of real pleasures and real pains. David Hare said in his memorial address: “John Osborne devoted his life to trying to forge some sort of connection between the acuteness of his mind and the extraordinary power of his heart.”
On the 60th anniversary of the original production, Red Line Productions brings Look Back in Anger to the Old Fitz Theatre stage, co-directed by acclaimed award winning director Damien Ryan and actor Lizzie Schebesta, and starring Melissa Bonne (ABC’s Janet King), Robin Goldsworthy (All My Sons), Andrew Henry (Howie The Rookie) and Chantelle Jamieson (Belleville).
Look Back in Anger tells the story of a love triangle involving an intelligent and educated but disaffected young man of working-class origin (Jimmy Porter), his upper-middle-class, impassive wife (Alison), and her haughty best friend (Helena). Cliff, an amiable Welsh lodger, attempts to keep the peace.
“John Osborne didn’t contribute to British theatre: he set off a landmine called Look Back in Anger and blew most of it up. The bits have settled back into place, of course, but it can never be the same again.” – Alan Sillitoe
For a fascinating account of the original production in The Guardian, please click here.
Following the Old Fitz Theatre season, Look Back in Anger will move to Belvoir’s Downstairs Theatre from September 13-17. For booking information and season details, please visit www.belvoir.com.au.
LOOK BACK IN ANGER by John Osborne
This 60th Anniversary Production is presented by Red Line Productions with support from Belvoir
Directed by Damien Ryan and Lizzie Schebesta
With Melissa Bonne, Robin Goldsworthy, Andrew Henry, Chantelle Jamieson
Lighting Design by Ross Graham
Sound Design by Katelyn Shaw
Set Design by Jonathan Hindmarsh
Costume Design by Anna Gardiner
Stage Management by Bronte Axam
Venue: Old Fitz Theatre, 129 Dowling Street (Cnr Cathedral Street), Woolloomooloo
Season: 16 August – 10 September
*Extension season at Belvoir’s Downstairs Theatre 13-17 September (Tickets not yet on sale)
Times: Tues-Sat 7.30pm, Sunday 5pm
Price: $38 Adult, $33 Concession, $28 Previews and Cheap Tuesday