John Osborne

John Osborne 

The production of John Osborne "Look Back in Anger" by the Royal Court Theatre in 1956 marked the opening of an important and new phase in 20th century English drama.

The Play is about Jimmy Porter a provincial graduate of humble social background married to a girl of an upper class family Alison Jimmy treats her with a mixture of self pity and sadism the play exploded on the english dramatic scene with enormous force because of the radically new kind of vitality in its dialogue. Its theme also managed to tuch the deepest anxieties and frustration of Britain's new educated class. This class the young people had grown up after the Second World War. They were the beneficiaries of the Education Act of 1944 and of the welfare state brought into being by the Labour government elected in 1945. They consisted generally of sons and daughters of parents of limited education and fairly humble social position. They had gone to a red-brick university not to Oxford and Cambridge and the state had paid their way. But on leaving university to look for a place in the world they found that the prizes were still reserved for those who went through the traditional public school plus Oxford education. The values by which society was governed were those of a backward looking establishment in which the raw product of a provincial university felt out of place.
They had expected a genuine meritocracy with important places available for these with education. But they found instead that the benefactions of the welfare state had fitted them to be misfits self conscious about their manners and background.

Osborne caught the mood of 1950's with accuracy. Self-pity is not admirable and sadism is even less so yet Osborne seems to hold Jimmy Porter up for our sympathetic understanding. The Play spoke for a generation and in doing so brought a new vitality to English drama. 

Post a Comment