Look Back in Anger
The phrase “angry young man” comes up frequently in relation to John Osborne’s 1956 drama Look Back in Anger. Jimmy Porter, the protagonist of the gritty, groundbreaking drama, is, indeed, angry and young—mainly angry. Really angry.
Originally the term referred not to Jimmy, but to John, the author. Osborne was the first among young playwrights of the late 1950s to develop a realistic style of theater (called “kitchen sink drama”) that explored issues of the working class.
The play takes place entirely within a cramped and dirty apartment where Jimmy (played with much intensity by Dan Fagan) and his mousy upper-middle class wife Alison (Elyse Sharp) are crowded by the lodger Cliff (Paj Crank, a most amiable actor) and Alison’s actress friend Helena (Mallory Monachino). Social injustices, financial difficulties, spiteful acts and emotional wounds create the fabric of a plot that comes, finally, to a vaguely hopeful conclusion.
Director E.M. Hodge keeps the emphasis on the words—a long, steady stream of them—and her fine actors. In one small but integral scene, Loren Taylor, as Alison’s father, Colonel Redfern, delivers a remarkably naturalistic performance that gives added sheen to the production.