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Home arrow Archive: EdFringe 2013 arrow Look Back in Anger
Look Back in Anger
Published on Sunday, 11 August 2013

4 stars

C venues - C too (venue website)
1-12, 14-26 Aug, 12:50pm-2:15pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.

On a sunny afternoon at midday, it can be difficult to convince yourself to spend an hour and twenty-five minutes inside a theatre. It might be even harder when the show on offer is one of the angriest pieces of theatre written in modern Britain. Let me assure you, however, this is a piece of theatre worth skipping lunch for, especially if you appreciate the modern classics and complex character development. John Osbourne himself would have nodded in stony appreciation. He was quite an angry man, after all.

If you've never heard of Osbourne's modern British classic Look Back in Anger, then you shouldn’t be expecting a play with 'goodies' and 'baddies'. It's a phenomenal piece of theatre, but it's very hard to watch, as you might have guessed from the title alone. It explores the destructive marriage of the angry misogynist Jimmy and his impassive wife, Alison. They're joined by Cliff, a Welsh lodger who proves a charming middleman, but is not without his flaws and biases.

The Lincoln Company have stripped this play of the overtly-recognisable political commentary that existed in Osbourne's original. Unusually for me, I think this was a good idea: things obviously need to be cut in a Fringe production, and by stripping back the play to one central issue rather than several, The Lincoln Company have created a sublime if minimal version of Look Back in Anger.

This production focuses primarily on the essence of human relationships, and how far people are willing to go for them. With their one-set stage, this is a very intimate production – it's as if there is no outside world, nothing of consequence outside of the dingy house itself. It's wonderfully effective. As part of the audience, you feel like you're looking voyeuristically into a window that you shouldn't be. The atmosphere is tense and claustrophobic: there is no way of escaping the image of this room with its small couch, the notorious ironing board and a screaming Jimmy.

This cast is one of the more talented I've seen at this year's Fringe. They make you feel every beat of silence, and cringe uncomfortably with every yell. When Jimmy (played by the obscenely talented Stewart Scott) leaves the stage, you can feel a tangible sense of relief in the room from audience and character alike. Pheobe Hall-Palmer also deserves special mention for playing Alison with a quiet, but powerful sense of frustration. She was captivating – impressively so, considering the number of actors that might have turned Alison into a wooden character that garnered no sympathy.

At an hour and twenty-five minutes, it is at the longer end of the Fringe spectrum, but every moment is captivating enough to be justified. You might end up disturbed, but you certainly won't be bored. The Lincoln Company have given us a powerful production, full of respect for the original script and the characters they portray, and this is definitely one of the unsung successes of this year's Fringe.

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