Elizabeth Lambrakis has reviewed the performance for us she that saw on the Wednesday night of the run. Read the review here:
John Osborne’s watershed work can seem just a bit dated to a contemporary audience: a great deal has changed in the 60 years since it was written, not least in sexual politics. So Look Back in Anger was arguably a bold choice of play for the Little Theatre to put on.
Closely based on the playwright’s own disintegrating marriage, it makes a rather grim watch to see the protagonist subjecting his young wife to what seems like a relentless barrage of misogyny. I have to admit that it proved to be an emotionally draining, though ultimately rewarding, experience!
Music from a 50s jazz band set the scene before the curtain went up, and there was good use of sound throughout from pealing church bells to the raucous strains of Jimmy’s offstage trumpet. And as usual the Little Theatre’s wonderful set builders worked their magic, placing the action in a claustrophobic attic bedsit under sloping ceilings, full of shabby period detail.
The original ‘angry young man’ anti-hero, Jimmy Porter, was convincingly played by Des Hinks in a glowering rant of rage and frustration at his dismal provincial existence and lack of intellectual stimulation. Did he set our teeth on edge? Well, yes he did, but then that was almost inevitable.
In stark contrast, Kat Tanczos gave a touchingly understated performance as his downtrodden middle-class wife Alison, that culminated in a final scene of raw emotional intensity. The third member of the ménage à trois, amiable Cliff doing his best to keep the peace, was sympathetically played by Robert Quinn. Charlie Núñez had the challenging role of Helena, Alison’s supposed friend who wastes little time in taking her place in Jimmy’s bed. Finally Tony Kemp was a suitably crusty Colonel Redfern, underlining issues of class as well as nostalgia for a bygone age.
Director Alison Knott is to be congratulated both for selecting this play, and for doing an excellent job of honing it into a compelling production. Once again the Chester Little Theatre did not disappoint, and we look forward to seeing the next five plays that they will be staging over the coming season.