Wednesday 18th September to Saturday 21st September at 7:30pm, plus a matinee on Saturday 21st September at 2:30
Directed by Alan Ward
In a one room flat in the Midlands, this is a slice of life drama set in the 1950's representing post-war youth with the lead character, protagonist Jimmy Porter, an intelligent and educated but disaffected young man of working class origin living with his upper middle class wife, Alison. Cliff shares their lodging house and attempts to keep the peace during Jimmy's constant vitriolic verbal attacks on his wife, her family and their social standing. Their marriage is further threatened by the arrival of Alison's friend and aspiring actress Helena......
This play is considered to be autobiographical relating to John Osborne's relationship with the actress Pamela Lane, the adoration of his father and the vehement hatred of his mother.
The Merits of Look Back in Anger
When written, in the 1950's, this was the most original piece ever written which ultimately changed the face of British Theatre. As the first 'kitchen sink drama' featuring the foremost 'angry young man' in Jimmy Porter, it inspired a new wave of writers, directors and film makers who, as a direct result, produced classics such as 'Room at the Top', 'Saturday Night, Sunday Morning' and 'Love on the Dole'.
Of a 1989 revival of Look Back in Anger, Michael Billington, critic for the Guardian, asserted that "Good plays change their meaning with time; and it is a measure of the quality of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger that it now seems a very different work to the one staged at the Royal Court in 1956." Although to Billington the play "seemed less an incendiary social drama than an exploration of personal pain," he went on to note that "what is slightly chilling is to realise how topical many of Osborne's ideas remain."
The plain, drab setting of the play illustrates the contrast between the idealistic Jimmy and the dull reality of the world surrounding him.
This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Jimmy Porter||Mark Woodhouse|
|Alison Porter||Robin Hall|
|Cliff Lewis||Sam Treharne|
|Helena Charles||Liz Donnelly|
|Colonel Redfern||Pete Woodward|
|Trumpet player (off stage)||Jonathan Brocklehurst|
|Stage Manager||Marion Gear|
|Assistant Stage Manager||(Pete Woodward)|
|Sound Design||Phil Hanley|
|Lighting Design||Thomas Hall|
|Lighting Operation||Derek Callam|
|Sound Operation||Derek Callam|
|Set Design||Pete Woodward|
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
I am a new member to the Bench but I have wealth of experience both in acting and directing. I attended Drama School at Arts Educational in the 1980's. In 2002, I graduated from Rose Bruford College with a B.A. Hons. Degree in Theatre Directing. As a professional Director, my credits included 'Six Degrees of Separation' at the I.C.A. Pall Mall and 'Mooney and his Caravans' at the Greenwich Playhouse.
My most recent Amateur Directing credits include The Accrington Pals for the Chichester Players (NODA Accolade of Excellence 2010-11) and The Anniversary for the Regis Players.
Choice of play
The play is well known with powerful characterisation but is not widely performed in the amateur arena.
Performances should attract a wide audience including students for whom the script is often included in the syllabus as required study for drama/English/theatre courses.
This play heralded the way forward for the genre of gritty realism which the Bench often includes in its productions.
The play offers challenging roles for actors of the calibre of Bench members who can follow in the footsteps as such greats as Richard Burton, Clair Bloom and Alan Bates.
Look Back in Anger would be well placed in the Bench calendar for September following Absent Friends and Ladies Day.
There have been no John Osborne plays performed by the Bench since the 1970's.
On a personal note, I was lucky enough to play the part of Jimmy Porter in a production of Look Back in Anger in the early 1980's. You either love or hate Jimmy - I personally loved him and, at the time, was very sympathetic to his cause and I am relishing the opportunity to revisit the play as its Director.
Showing this week at the Spring in Havant, Bench Theatre's production boasts a perfectly unlikeable Jimmy, played by Mark Woodhouse. His slightly hunched posture and threatening presence create an air of unease, with Jimmy's volatile nature played with gusto. In moments where he allows himself to really live in the character, the actor is capable of delivering a powerful performance.
Porter's long-suffering wife Alison is played with sensitivity and a very human subtleness by Robin Hall. Liz Donnelly as Alison's friend, Helena Charles, and Pete Woodward as Alison's father, Colonel Redfern, give distinct performances, with lovely work on the characters' physicality.
Live music from trumpet player Jonathan Brocklehurst is a treat, with a well-deserved bow at the end.
Sam Treharne as the Porters' neighbour, Cliff Lewis, gives a standout performance. The subtlest of facial expressions or body language tells the story of not only his character's feelings but the whole situation. His touching performance binds the show together.A thoughtful and emotive performance that doesn't always hit the mark but is powerful when it does. Until Saturday.
The News, Jennie Rawling, 19th September 2013
Alan Ward directs, and asks us "Does Jimmy Porter... still have something to say?"
Of course that delightfully bilious and acerbically witty character does, though having a wife willing to iron his shirts, a steady job and command of the Sunday paper may seem luxuries today!
Mark Woodhouse plays Porter with a commanding, frightening presence. Liz Donelly, as the disruptive Helena, is also formidable, though Sam Tereharne as "faithful friend" Cliff sometimes almost seems to do more with less. Jimmy's trumpet playing is provided offstage by Jonathan Broklehurst and greatly appreciated by the audience.
Despite its misogynistic tone, Ward seems aware that it's the women who really drive the action, and so "veteran" Robin Hall as Jimmy's wife is brilliantly developed by director and actress to the climactic moment when she finally understands the source of her man's anger.
Ham Quentin, Southampton Daily Echo, 23rd September 2013
When John Osborne's powerful play "Look Back in Anger" first appeared at the Royal Court back in 1956 starring Alan Bates, it revolutionised British theatre. It was a blistering kitchen-sink drama exploding a vicious verbal attack of class rage on audiences brought up on the genteel manners of Coward and Rattigan. No surprise the term "angry young men" was first used for Osborne!
Large parts of Osborne's work are autobiographical and this play is no exception. Written in just 17 days, his own character comes through in the central figure of Jimmy Porter - a disaffected, intelligent, politically left young man. Porter lives in squalid conditions with his upper middle-class wife Alison and his relentless rebellious taunts and demeaning behaviour towards her are merciless.
This challenging drama is directed by a new member of Bench Theatre Alan Ward, who had himself been cast as Jimmy Porter back in an 80's production. Another newcomer Mark Woodhouse takes on the role of the protagonist Jimmy Porter. He commands the stage with his startling prowess and marathon dialogue and impresses with his vitriolic attacks and endless anti establishment rants. Committed company member Robin Hall plays the insulted stiff upper lipped Alison Porter, so cruelly treated by her husband, with Liz Donnelly (Helena Charles) skilfully developing her conflicted character. A fine performance from Sam Treharne (Cliff Lewis) again making his debut with this company, playing the meek Welsh lodger enamoured with the down-trodden Alison.
There was loyal support for this prolific Havant based company who produce a broad range of productions each year incorporating pantomime, comedy, new works, Shakespeare and gritty dramas as in this case. Their next production will be "Little Women" in mid November.
Jill Lawrie, Remotegoat, 21st September 2013