Monday, February 6, 2012

Sam Gold’s Two Angry Brits

Photo by Joan Marcus
If you are interested in seeing some pissed off Brits on the New York City Stage, then look no further than Look Back in Anger Off Broadway or Seminar on Broadway. Both plays are directed by Sam Gold.

Now, I must admit that I do not get what the character Jimmy Porter (Matthew Rhys) is so angry about in the current Roundabout Theatre production of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger. I do not get the squalor he lives in with his wife.  And I most certainly do not get his treatment of women, as observed for over 2 hours recently at the Laura Pels Theatre. The historical importance of the play and how it ushered in a new kind of “keeping it real” playwright in England in the 1950s - that I get. Sustained anger without inaction - that I do not. 

Head a few blocks west and audiences can encounter more anger on stage. Meet Leonard (Alan Rickman) in Theresa Rebeck's Seminar  about a literary figure who privately teaches and mentors (among other things) four young aspiring writers. Thanks to Ms. Rebeck's humor and the discoveries that the writers make about themselves, Leonard's acid is easier to digest than Jimmy Porter's.

If you are looking for anger, then grab an antacid and enjoy Seminar. In the meantime, still committed to trying to understand Look Back in Anger, I will be reserving the film version at my local library - starting with the Richard Burton version.

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