Osborne’s rebellion against the niceties of the representation of domesticity on the British stage still has the power to shock and generate incredulity at the perplexing marriage of Jimmy and Alison Porter, fifty years down the line.
Lizzy Dive (Helena Charles), Piers Wehner (Jimmy Porter) and Jonathan Parish (Cliff Lewis) in Look Back in Anger at Kenton, Henley
Maybe our reasons for asking why these two opposites are together, are socially different from audiences in the fifties. But Osborne’s philosophy of rising up against futile mediocrity and generating controversy is still apparent - even if his work may now be considered an impudent cry for attention for the disaffected population of post-war Britain.
Piers Wehner gives an exceptional performance as Jimmy Porter, fervently outraged and passionately extreme, while Jonathan Parish provides a nonchalant stability as the lodger Cliff Lewis.
Katherine Senior is the distant and haughty Alison Porter, whose unstable relationship with her husband is a far cry from her upper-class upbringing. For her, their marriage was originally exciting, a daring escape from her refined existence, but is now a miserable numbness interspersed with childish pathos. Lizzy Dive plays her friend Helena Charles, whose character is equally superior, but without the restrictions of propriety to grind her down.
Jack Hulland completes the cast as Alison’s father Colonel Redfern, a military man with social standing and emotional practicality.
The repressive confines of the Porters’ insalubrious apartment are emphasised by bars representing the walls of the flat. Clothes and shoes are haphazardly hung on the bars as a metaphor for the never-ending chore of trying to get their lives in order.