Look Back in Anger

Look Back in Anger (1956) is a realist play written by John Osborne. It focuses on the life and marital struggles of an intelligent and educated but disaffected young man of working-class origin, Jimmy Porter, and his equally competent yet impassive upper-middle-class wife Alison. The supporting characters include Cliff Lewis, an amiable Welsh lodger who attempts to keep the peace; and Helena Charles, Alison's snobbish friend.[3][4][5]

Look Back in Anger
Poster for 1957 production [1]
Written byJohn Osborne
CharactersJimmy Porter
Alison Porter
Cliff Lewis
Helena Charles
Colonel Redfern[2]
Date premiered8 May 1956
Place premieredRoyal Court Theatre, London
Original languageEnglish
SubjectBritish class system, marriage, misogyny
SettingA single-room flat, English Midlands, 1950s

Osborne drew inspiration from his personal life and failing marriage with Pamela Lane while writing Look Back in Anger, which was his first successful outing as a playwright. The play spawned the term "angry young men" to describe Osborne and those of his generation who employed the harshness of realism in the theatre in contrast to the more escapist theatre that characterised the previous generation.[6] This harsh realism has led to Look Back in Anger being considered one of the first examples of kitchen sink drama in theatre.

The play was received favourably in the theatre community, becoming an enormous commercial success, transferring to the West End and Broadway, and even touring to Moscow. It is credited with turning Osborne from a struggling playwright into a wealthy and famous personality, and also won him the Evening Standard Drama Award as the most promising playwright of 1956. The play was adapted into a motion picture of the same name by Tony Richardson, starring Richard Burton and Mary Ure, which was released in 1959. Film production credited circa 1958.[7][8]