Summer 2014: Osborne, Look Back in Anger
The cast and preparations
John Osborne, Look Back in Anger: Information
John Osborne, Look Back in Anger
A Look at Look Back in Anger and John Osborne
The Angry Young Man John Osborne (1929–1994) was an English playwright and screenwriter, known for his criticism of Britain’s elite, seen clearly in his most famous work Look Back in Anger. Strongly autobiographical, it challenged the purpose of post-war Britain, and sent English theatre in a new direction. Theatre critic Kenneth Tynan called it “a minor miracle”, Alan Sillitoe, author of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner wrote that Osborne “didn’t contribute to British theatre, he set off a landmine and blew most of it up.“ Osborne and his fictional doppelganger, Jimmy Porter, were called “angry young men“, a term which came to describe other writers and characters in works to follow in the same genre as Look Back in Anger.
The play examines the unhappy marriage of Jimmy and Alison Porter, and a curious double love triangle involving the working class friend of Jimmy’s (Cliff), and Helena, a high-society friend of Alison’s. Cliff loves Alison, Helena loves Jimmy, Alison loves... well, is she even capable of love? Then there is Jimmy. JImmy loves himself and loathes the world in general, Helena’s righteousness in particular, and his wife’s passiveness above all.
Look Back in Anger was one of the first plays to show life as it is and not as audiences want it to be. These are no kings or queens; there are no great deeds, vile treasons, or sweeping romantic gestures; instead, passion and and despair lie in the very ordinary.
Although Look Back in Anger premiered in 1956, the frustration and devastation, along with the hopes and dreams of the characters, still resonates with audiences today. (Signe Sturup-Hackenberg)