Walsh and Carolina Aimetti
by R. Pikser
John Osborne wrote Look Back in Anger in 1956, its shockingly bitter
class antagonisms may have seemed a bit strange and distant to Americans of
that time. Reviews of subsequent productions and films stress how dated its
concerns had become, how we were past all that, at least in the minds of the
reviewers. Now, its parallels to our current political lives, both in England
and in the United States, are all too apparent. If we, as Americans, do not
resonate fully with the idea of class per se strangling the lives it touches,
we have merely to look around to see similar lives, apparently without future,
of many working-class white men and the fury their situation engenders in
them. If we do not call it class in this country, we can still feel the
exclusion when we turn on the television and see item after wonderful item that
we cannot afford to purchase, or only by heavy borrowing, including the
education that promises us a way out.
Back in Anger
details the trapped lives of the three central characters. Jimmy is a
brilliant man but from a lower class, poor background, which fact will forever
limit how far he can go in life, and this infuriates him to such an extent that
it poisons everything he touches. He is stuck in a meaningless job that barely
supports himself and his upper class wife, Alison, who has all but renounced
her family (an unthinkable act in those days) to be with Jimmy. The third
central character is their friend, Cliff, also working class, but whose
sensitivity or lack of bitterness allows him to act as a buffer between the
other two. Alison, for Jimmy, clearly represents all that has oppressed him
and his for his whole life.
is less obvious, especially after the changes wrought by the feminist movement
of the 1960’s and 1970’s, is not so much what has caused this upper class young
woman to leave her former life, but what makes her continue in her clearly
abusive new life. One may understand that male directors may not focus on this
problem, but even Aimee Fortier, who directed this production, has allowed Elizabeth
Scopel, her Alison, to remain merely sweetly browbeaten, rather than helping
her discover a reason to stand for this abuse, admittedly no easy task.
question must be answered also by the actions of Jimmy: for example, does he
really never show any affection that would help Alison to stick it out? This
reviewer thinks that the answer lies not only in what must be Jimmy's burning
sexuality, which is made clear by the play, but in proposing to the audience a
situation that allows them to reflect on the idea of the vitality of the lower
classes and how dangerous it may be. If Ryan Welsh´s Jimmy does not burn with
energy all the time, his outbreaks into physical movement tell us that the
energy is inside him just the same.
Aimetti and Ryan Welsh photos by Fiamma Piacentini
Creavin solves most of the problems Cliff presents by the way he listens and
when he chooses not to listen to what is going on around him. The role is
deceptively simple but Mr. Creavin fills it out. Caroline Aimetti as Alison’s
friend and Stan Buturla as Alison’s father who comes to rescue her were both
entirely professional, thinking through their roles and bringing them to life.
Creavin, Carolina Aimetti, Elizabeth Scopel, Stan Burtula
the actors must be given great thanks and credit for their performance to a
very small house on the evening of February 20th. To perform for a
small audience is difficult, but to perform a play requiring so much energy is
especially challenging and all the actors must be commended for their
discipline and their dedication.
are points to disagree with or quarrel about in this play, but it is
provocative and, as good theater does, it makes us think not only historically
but about our present moment. One hopes that others will be inspired to take
another look at it and that there will be more productions. That in itself
would be a service.
Lion Productions and
Welsh and Joy Donze
and Sunday 2:00 p.m.