Theatre Review: Look Back In Anger

John Osborne’s 1950 play, one which shattered the ideas of drama in Britain that came after it, is one of those
important plays that any avid theatre goer ought to see. This revival of the play at The Gate, brought to the stage
by award winning director Annabelle Comyn, is a visual and theatrical delight – in regards to its production.
Comyn, along with her talented cast and crew bring the claustrophobic atmosphere of that attic room to life with
vivid clarity, and tease at the edges of the theatrical fabric of the play, reading stage directions (which are often
not followed), to give the work a new lease of life through a layer of cognitive dissonance. In terms of tone,
Look Back in Anger channels a malaise and drift that harks back, in a way to the world of Fitzgerald’s The
Beautiful and the Damned.

It is a change that is welcome, in bringing the play to an audience in 2018. It is clear from the outset that,
although Look Back in Anger was in itself, full of a sense of dissonance, time has not been kind to some of the
strands of violence and misogynistic rhetoric which are ingrained within the work. It is telling that many of the
moments of disobedience to the spoken stage directions come from the women in the play (superbly acted by
Clare Dunne and Vanessa Emme), giving them agency and power that was keenly lacking from the base
material. Conversely, the character of Jimmy, the central figure in this narrative, is played with a carefully acted
hand by Ian Toner, giving him the air of a hero from a Shakespearean tragedy suddenly thrown into the middle
of the twentieth century.

Overall, Look Back in Anger is a play that changed the face and course of British drama, and this production is
one which will change the understanding of the work, adapting it through nuance and tone for a twenty-first
century audience.

Síofra Ní Shluaghadháin


The Gate Theatre presents

Look Back In Anger by John Osborne

1st February – 24th March, 2018

Previews: from Thurs 1st Feb., 2018
Opening Night: Wed 7th Feb., 2018
Saturday Matinees: 2.30pm
Shows: Mon to Sat – 7.30pm
Tickets: €25 – €38

Directed by Annabelle Comyn

Cast: Clare Dunne, Ian Toner, Vanessa Emme, Lloyd Cooney,


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