Review: Look Back in Anger, Derby Theatre

“What kind of man are you?”

Where else to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Look Back in Anger than in the city where it is set, and in the very theatre where the marriage between John Osborne and Pamela Lane came under such strain as to inspire the turbulence of the play that, as conventional wisdom would have it, changed the face of British theatre. Recently, the play has been rarely seen, suffering from the very thing that brought its fame – ever-evolving theatrical tastes – but Sarah Brigham’s production makes it feel startlingly pertinent.

The archetypal angry young man, decidedly working class but university educated Jimmy Porter finds himself raging against every aspect of his life in 1956 Derby. The huge social gulf that marks his marriage to the upper middle class Alison, her haughty friend Helena who’s coming to stay, the cramped flat which they share with pal Cliff and the politics they debate ferociously, the music on the radio that isn’t his beloved jazz… And as his frustrations take on an ever more vicious turn, a love triangle emerges that shatters what fragile peace there is. Continue reading “Review: Look Back in Anger, Derby Theatre”

Nominations for 2012 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play 
Blood and Gifts – Produced by Lincoln Center Theater; Written by J. T. Rogers 
Milk Like Sugar – Produced by Playwrights Horizons and Women’s Project Theater; Written by Kirsten Greenidge 
Sons of the Prophet – Produced by Roundabout Theatre Company; Written by Stephen Karam  
The Big Meal – Produced by Playwrights Horizons; Written by Dan LeFranc 
The School For Lies – Produced by Classic Stage Company; Written by David Ives 

Outstanding Musical
Once – Produced by New York Theatre Workshop; Book by Enda Walsh, Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová 
Queen of the Mist – Produced by Transport Group; Words and Music by Michael John LaChiusa 
SILENCE! The Musical – Produced by Victoria Lang, Rich Affannato, Donna Trinkoff in association with Scott Kirschenbaum, Theater Mogul, Kitefliers Studio, Terry Schnuck and John Arthur Pinckard; Music and Lyrics by Jon Kaplan and Al Kaplan, Book by Hunter Bell, Adapted from the screenplay Silence! The Musical by Jon and Al Kaplan
The Blue Flower – Produced by Second Stage Theatre ; By Jim Bauer and Ruth Bauer  
The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World – Produced by Playwrights Horizons and New York Theatre Workshop; Book by Joy Gregory, Music by Gunnar Madsen, Lyrics by Joy Gregory and Gunnar Madsen, Story by Joy Gregory, Gunnar Madsen, and John Langs  Continue reading “Nominations for 2012 Lucille Lortel Awards”

Review: Inadmissible Evidence, Donmar Warehouse

“Asking a working writer what he feels about critics is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs”

Inadmissible Evidence focuses in almost exclusively on Bill Maitland, a lawyer whose life is falling apart. Everyone important to him seems to be abandoning him, work colleagues, the numerous secretaries he’s sleeping with, his angsty daughter, and he exists in a bubble of self-obsessed torture and suffering – nicely realised in Soutra Gilmour’s office set that highlights his isolation – and presumably on the way to some sort of nervous breakdown. Douglas Hodge is thus never off the stage in a marathon of a performance that rarely lets up: he’s desperate to be the life of the party yet prey to numerous neuroses; unable to really connect with anyone yet constantly talking and raging at them; in this world it is all about him and so the play becomes all about him too.

Such focus on Maitland means that the rest of the ensemble have to work extremely hard to make any sort of meaningful impact in the production, Osborne’s writing not helping them a great deal. Daniel Ryan fares best as colleague Hudson, Serena Evans triples up effectively as a series of clients and Al Weaver makes a quietly moving study of his married man arrested for cottaging. But Esther Hall is completely wasted as final mistress Liz, given the merest opportunity to shine as she does extremely well here and Karen Gillan did not seem quite equal to the task as the secretary who has just had enough, coming across as flat and unresponsive, especially up against Hodge. Continue reading “Review: Inadmissible Evidence, Donmar Warehouse”