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50th Anniversary Performance: 'Look Back in Anger'


50th Anniversary Performance of ‘Look Back in Anger’

Miranda Harcourt directs Aaron Alexander, Lucy Wigmore, Mia Blake and Louis Sutherland in the John Osborne classic, ‘Look Back in Anger’.

This play marked the beginning-point of modern naturalistic theatre. It is an essential piece of theatre for any audience interested in experiencing the emotional and psychological scope of modern western theatre.

Jimmy Porter is passionate, articulate and educated but trapped within a dead end job and the claustrophobia of the bed-sit where he lives with his wife and best friend. In an atmosphere charged with sexual tension and fraught with frustrated energy, this emotional and powerful work is both an extraordinary portrait of post-war Britain and a love story for its time.

This season celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of a play that changed the face of British theatre forever. John Osborne's ground-breaking ‘Look Back in Anger’ brought the drama of real life to the stage for the first time and introduced the expression 'Angry Young Man' to the world.

From Director Miranda Harcourt:

Helena: I have discovered what is wrong with Jimmy. He was born out of his time.

Alison: I know.

Helena: It is as though he still thinks he is in the middle of the French Revolution.

This exchange between Alison and Helena struck me the first time I read John Osborne’s searing examination of domestic relationships. But perhaps Jimmy was not born too late as Helena posits. Perhaps Jimmy was born too early.

Helena: …there’s no place for people like that, in sex or politics or anything… he doesn’t know where he is or where he’s going. He’ll never do anything and he’ll never amount to anything.

The relationships, the psychology and the sexual politics in Look Back in Anger seem so startlingly contemporary that it’s impossible to respond to these characters as a period piece. These people are us, living in flats in Newtown or Grafton in 2006. Alison’s passive aggression, Helena’s misguided determination, Cliff’s confusion and Jimmy’s nihilistic passion are as recognisable to us now as they were revolutionary to the original audience in 1956.

Jimmy: …I’ve an idea. Why don’t we have a little game? Let’s pretend we’re human beings, and that we’re actually alive. Just for a while. What do you say? Let’s pretend we’re human.

In this production we have played with anachronism, the interplay between being true to the period and being true to the voices of the characters.

The environment you will see onstage here – the food, the pay, the clothes, the jobs, the domestic chores… these remain true to the British Midlands in 1956. But we have brought some contemporary elements to our version of Osborne’s story. You will hear no assumed British accents. We have striven to find an authentic voice, using natural NZ accents to serve the intricate subtleties of this universal drama."



5 – 22 JULY 2006

MON – SAT at 8pm

SUN (no performance)


27 JULY – 12 AUGUST 2006

MON – TUES at 7pm

WED – SAT at 8pm

SUN (no performance)

Plot Summary

The three-act play takes place in a one-bedroom flat in the British Midlands. Jimmy Porter, lower middle-class, university-educated, lives with his wife Alison, the daughter of a retired Colonel in the British Army in India. His friend Cliff Lewis, who helps Jimmy run a sweet stall, lives with them. Jimmy, intellectually restless and thwarted, reads the papers, argues and taunts his friends over their acceptance of the world around them. He rages to the point of violence, reserving much of his bile for Alison's friends and family. The situation is exacerbated by the arrival of Helena, an actress friend of Alison's from school. Appalled at what she finds, Helena calls Alison's father to take her away from the flat. He arrives while Jimmy is visiting the mother of a friend and takes Alison away. As soon as she has gone, Helena moves in with Jimmy. Alison returns to visit, having lost Jimmy's baby. Helena can no longer stand living with Jimmy and leaves. Finally Alison returns to Jimmy and his angry life.


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