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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Box Theatre Company - Look Back in Anger

3rd to 6th November 2004.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Essentially Osborne

Box Theatre: Look Back In Anger, at New Greenham Arts, from Wednesday, November 3 to Saturday, November 6

John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger was first performed in 1956, and provoked a major controversy. There were those, like the Observer newspaper’s influential critic Kenneth Tynan, who saw it as the first totally original play of a new generation. There were others who hated both it and the world that Osborne was showing them. But even those critics acknowledged that the play marked a new voice on the British stage, and it came to exemplify a reaction to the affected drawing-room comedies which dominated the West End stage in the early 1950s.

Box Theatre presented this challenging piece at New Greenham Arts, under the direction of Tracey Donnelly, and gave us a quality production with a high standard of acting which captured the essence of the piece. It was depressing at times, tense and uncomfortable to watch, but compelling.

As Jimmy Porter, Duncan Mack gave us a real character, despite his overblown, eloquent and exasperating tirades. Taunting and provocative he asks: “Why don't we have a little game? Let’s pretend that we’re human beings, and that we’re actually alive”.

His delivery was impressive and immaculate and he used his voice and whole body in a virtuoso display of expressive acting. Sanna Nobbs, as Jimmy’s wife Alison, gave an excellent and again very real and tense performance as the woman who tolerates Jimmy’s monstrous invective and bile, living constantly with the threat of something erupting in front of her.

The characters of Cliff and Helena were less real and therefore less convincing. However, Gavin Slaughter gave a solid and likeable portrayal of Cliff, the housemate who keeps the peace and plays along with the games, but where was the Welsh accent?

Adelina Miller as Helena was a little stilted at first, but warmed to her role and got better and better. Paul Isherwood gave a finely-drawn portrayal – again believable and skilfully acted – of Colonel Redfern, Alison’s father, totally at odds with Jimmy and his views and with total lack of comprehension of what Jimmy’s life actually meant.

With a simple but effective set, seedy and evoking the ’50s, atmospheric music and good lighting, this was another highly-successful production from Box Theatre. I will look forward to A Streetcar Named Desire at the Watermill in May.