Look Back in Anger

Five reasons this show is a must-see!

By Andrew Andrews

Elizabeth Scopel, Tim Creavin, Caroline Aimetti and Ryan Welsh star in Celtic Lion Production’s revival of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, directed by Aimée Fortier at Gene Frankel Theatre. Original photos by Angela Jones and Karim Manjra.

Allison, her husband Jimmy and his best friend Cliff live in squalor in a flat in the English Midlands. Jimmy has a chip on his shoulder that’s bigger than his head, verbally abusing his roommates and complaining about everything he reads in the newspapers scattered across the floor.

Allison and Cliff tolerate the tirades out of an inexplicable love, although there might also be an unexplored attraction between the two that holds the trio together.

When Allison’s old friend Helena shows up and practically begs Allison to abandon Jimmy and return home to her well-to-do parents, the tension increases to full-on conflict until something has to give.

If that synopsis isn’t enough to entice you, here are five more reasons this production is a must-see:

  1. T-E-N-S-I-O-N with a capital T: Jimmy’s bark might be bigger than his bite, but his unnerving criticism keeps you on edge, anticipating the fallout.
  2. Delivery: The actors are all well-chosen and perform their parts delectably, even recovering from a stumble or two with admirable ease. I think only one member of the cast is actually British, but all of their accents and mannerisms really conveyed the script’s sense of post-war social realism and its invention of the so-called “angry young man.”
  3. Direction: Even the best actors can only do so much if they’re not in the hands of an equally-skilled director.
  4. Setting: Although furnishing a derelict apartment from the thrift store might be a breeze, the treatment here is top notch. The only flaw we noticed was the use of color newspaper, which didn’t arrive until decades after the story takes place.
  5. Intimacy: If you’re lucky enough to sit along the side of the stage, you’ll feel like a guest at a house party where things are going horribly wrong—and I mean that in the best possible way.

Although my partner felt that the seats were uncomfortable enough to deduct a star, I was so captivated by the action that I didn’t notice.

Besides, with a story this anguished, I think a little physical discomfort can only add to the overall experience.


Andrew Andrews attended Look Back in Anger at Gene Frankel Theatre in Manhattan on Friday, February 14, 2020 @ 8:00pm to write this review.