Look Back In Anger (2012) Theater


Benedict as protagonist Jimmy Porter in a rehearsed reading of one of Britain’s most important plays, Look Back in Anger.

As part of the Playwrights’ Playwright season at the Royal Court Theatre a rehearsed reading of John Osborne’s Look Back In Anger took place on 06 July 2012 at the Duke of York’s Theatre. In addition to Benedict Cumberbatch, who played the role of the protagonist Jimmy Porter, the cast included Rebecca Hall (Alison Porter), Matt Ryan (Cliff Lewis), Anna Maxwell Martin (Helena Charles) and Julian Wadham (Colonel Redfern).
Look Back in Anger was written in 1955, and is still considered as one of the most important pieces of modern British theatre. First performed on 8 May 1956 at the Royal Court in London, it not only changed the nature of British theatre which was dominated by melodramas and secure middle class comedies until then, but it also introduced a new type of playwriting, one that still dominates the theatrical landscape today.

What is Look Back in Anger about?:
England 1950s. Jimmy Porter lives with his wife Alison, a Colonel’s daughter, and his friend Cliff in an attic flat. While Alison is ironing Jimmy’s shirts, Jimmy and Cliff are reading the newspapers. As usual Jimmy starts ranting about is boredom with life, his lodgings and his wife. The situation escalates when Alison gets hurts during a fight between Jimmy and Cliff. Cliff acts as an mediator between Jimmy and Alison and tries to keep the piece until Alison tells him her secret. Suddenly Alison’s friend Helena makes a surprise visit and the feelings in Jimmy’s apartment start to run high.


The idea of ​​a rehearsed reading is easy. The cast had 24 hours to prepare, and then to perform a kind of read-through in front of spectators. No set, costumes, makeup or props, only the actors and the script.

Due to the nature of the play, the biggest challenge for the cast was to bring out the subtleties of the characters  without a real physical performance, just through language and voice.

Look Back in Anger is available on Amazon here.
For Backstage-pictures from the reading, visit Dan Woollers Website.

Image Credit: MS Kensington