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The Adelaide Repertory Theatre is proud to present John Osborne's play, Look Back in Anger as its third production for 2019, beginning August 29 at the Arts Theatre.
With over 30 years in acting both professionally and in community theatre, Lesley Reed returns for her second directorial effort. She directed Incorruptible last year, which won the Adelaide Theatre Guide Best Comedy award for Galleon Theatre Group.
Reed said, "For lovers of classic theatre Look Back in Anger ticks all the boxes. Seeing this play provides today's theatregoer the opportunity to witness a true milestone in the history of theatre. The play still presents issues that are still relevant today. It is interesting for audiences to compare the prevailing attitudes of the times to those of today too; especially the treatment of women within some marriages. But how much have we changed?
In the mid-1950s Look Back in Anger was instrumental in changing the course of world theatre, with its new, realistic presentation of life's timeless issues, including marital breakdown, rejection of 'official' attitudes and more. Instead of theatre productions presenting debonair, 'feelgood' entertainment, such as post-WW II musicals aimed at an older, middle-class audience, Look Back in Anger offered a new, realistic presentation which met with a mix of shock, horror and acclaim."
After World War ll, the British working class has contributed to the war effort, rightly expected that opportunities would be better for them. They were disappointed, and discontent increased, just as discontent about social injustice abounds today. The play's themes are potentially controversial today, just as they were in the 1950's and this in itself attracts audiences.
Reed said, "John Osborne was one of a group of socially disgruntled young playwrights in Britain who rallied against the class system. He was seen as the original 'angry young man' and his main protagonist, Jimmy Porter, has now become synonymous with that term."
Initially Look Back in Anger was met with mixed and negative reviews. Fortunately for Osborne three major theatre critics hailed the play as "A play of extraordinary importance" (Derek Granger), "Osborne's a writer of outstanding promise" (Harold Hobson) and "It is the best young play of its decade" (Kenneth Tynan).
Later an excerpt was shown on television and generated more interest. In 1959 the movie version directed by Tony Richardson, starring Richard Burton, Claire Bloom and Mary Ure was released and nominated for Best British Film, Best British Actor and Best Film Screenplay. In 1960, a novelisation of the play written by John Burke was published and became a best-seller.
Why does the Repertory Theatre wish to perform Look Back in Anger?
Reed said, "The play is relevant for contemporary audiences, and as a stunning and often shocking drama, it is a powerful and absorbing work, worthy of staging. Themes include marriage breakdown, the angst of disadvantaged young people, misogyny, love vs emotional dependence, unresolved grief and more. Yet it still has lightness."
What is special about this production that will have audiences feel it is a must-see-play?
Reed said, "A deliberate 'filmic' feel to the production has been created. It is set in a rundown room in a Victorian-era boarding house in the English midlands. Most audiences won't see beyond the one room in the house. Elements from Osborne's play directions within the play script, take the acting into the entire attic floor, which is relevant only to this production. Through the use of original newsreel footage of the 1950's the play is set in the 1950's social context."
The sought after cast are very skilled. It includes NIDA – trained actor, Adam Tuominen as Jimmy Porter, as well as Leah Lowe, James Edwards, Jessica Carroll and Jack Robins.
The cast is directed by Lesley Reed "to use character-based initiative to move about the stage in an instinctive way, adding to the sense of immediacy and reality."
The original music has been created by Adelaide musician Kim Orchard, who also composed the score for Incorruptible.