Look Back in Anger

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A play by J. Osborne, first produced by the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre on 8 May 1956, published 1957. It proved a landmark in the history of the theatre, a focus for reaction against a previous generation (see Kitchen Sink Drama), and a decisive contribution to the corporate image of the Angry Young Man.

The action takes place in a midlands town, in the one‐room flat of Jimmy and Alison Porter, and centres on their marital conflicts, which appear to arise largely from Jimmy's sense of their social incompatibility: he is a jazz‐playing ex‐student from a ‘white tile’ university, she is a colonel's daughter. He is by turns violent, sentimental, maudlin, self‐pitying, and sadistic, and has a fine line in rhetoric. The first act opens as Alison stands ironing the clothes of Jimmy and their lodger Cliff. In the second act Alison's friend Helena attempts to rescue her from her disastrous marriage; Alison departs with her father, and Helena falls into Jimmy's arms. The third act opens with Helena at the ironing board; Alison returns, having lost the baby she was expecting, and she and Jimmy find a manner of reconciliation through humiliation and games‐playing fantasy.

Subjects: Literature.

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John Osborne (1929—1994) playwright and autobiographer

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