Derby Theatre and Octagon Theatre Bolton celebrate the 60th anniversary of John Osborne’s seminal play, the ground-breaking classic Look Back in Anger with a new revival.
Directed by Derby Theatre’s artistic irector, Sarah Brigham, the production will run at Derby Theatre from March 4 and then transfer to the Octagon Theatre Bolton from April 7.
Look Back in Anger smashed onto the scene and changed the face of British theatre in the mid-1950s, with the creation of a new character – Osborne’s Angry Young Man.
The play has a huge local resonance in Derby. It is a strongly autobiographical piece, possibly based on Osborne’s unhappy marriage to actress Pamela Lane and their time spent in a cramped flat in Derby during the ’50s.
Osborne worked as as an actor and stage manager at Derby Playhouse (now Derby Theatre) during the 1950s. He pitched the play to the Playhouse before he offered it to the Royal Court, but the Theatre’s Board turned it down as they thought it may not show his ex-wife (Pamela Lane), who was a leading actress in the rep company at that time, in a good light.
It’s 1956 and in a cramped flat in Derby, Jimmy Porter is angry. His upper-class wife Alison is the perfect target for his anger while his flatmate Cliff is the perfect sounding board.
An unwanted pregnancy and the arrival of a glamorous actress take the couple into a love triangle which questions the very foundations of how they live.
Playing the central role of Jimmy Porter will be Patrick Knowles. Patrick’s recent credits include: Saturday Night Sunday Morning and The Grapes of Wrath, Mercury Theatre Colchester; and, most recently, as Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Curve in Leicester.
In the role of Alison is Augustina Seymour. Augustina’s recent credits include a UK tour of It’s a Wonderful Life; Playing for Time at Sheffield Crucible and Happiness for Theatre 503.
Daisy Badger will play Helena. Daisy currently plays Pip Archer in the long-running BBC Radio 4 favourite The Archers and she also plays series regular, Claire Hillman in the ITV series Home Fires.
Jimmy Fairhurst plays Cliff. Jimmy recently played Phil in Derby Theatre’s acclaimed production of Brassed Off as well as Jud in the Theatre’s production of Kes.
As a companion piece to Look Back in Anger, Derby Theatre is also staging a new play, Jinny written by Jane Wainwright.
Jinny will look at the play afresh and offer a contemporary response to Look Back. Built on research and development with the women living in Derby in 2015/16, this is a story of a young woman trying to cope with the world and it is told with humour and warmth.
Sarah Brigham said: “I am incredibly excited to be directing Look Back in Anger for our spring 2016 season and for it to then continue its run at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton.
“The play changed the face of British Theatre back in the 50s by putting working class voices centre stage and I am keen to get my teeth into this iconic and influential work to discover what impact our version may offer our audiences today.
“We have assembled a truly magnificent cast, all exciting, young actors in their own right and I am confident that their combined performances will result in a compelling night out of searing drama in our theatres.
“Look Back in Anger placed the working man’s voice centre stage, coining the term ‘angry young men” and I believe very strongly that some of the status quo the character Jimmy Porter was railing against then is still very relevant today – it will be exciting to bring this seminal text back to its home of Derby”.
Look Back in Anger, Derby Theatre, runs from March 4-26 and at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton from April 7-30.