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classic drama about the original 'angry young man'
on 19 May 2001
Look back in Anger is not only a classic of the British theatre, it also had reverbatory effects around the world upon its release in the 1950s. The play features some of the most vivious confrontations and acidic language I have ever read, and is ideal material for male and female monologues. Jimmy, the protagonist, has perplexed audiences and directors alike - how can any woman stand to live with him, let alone be drawn back to him after seemingly 'escaping'? But that is the lure of Jimmy's character - his sheer charisma. He is a James Dean for the English middle-classes, without the stunning looks, but with more reasons to rebel. The imagery of the play is at once subtle and exciting: Osborne is a master at creating visual and audio contradictions. In LOOK BACK IN ANGER this is manifested in the contrast between the bestial (animal) imagery, the unbridled lust of the protagonists, and constant reminders of religion, the Church, and the 'proper' society that Jimmy wishes to tear Alison away from. It is a drama of passion, bitterness and regret, with a shocking climax and a disturbingly ambiguous conclusion. Essential reading.