08 September 2016
Don’t clap too loudly
John Osborne’s (1929-94) fame came from the perception that he changed English theatre, but the posthumous decline of his reputation can be attributed to a feeling that the medium had changed again. In 1956, Jimmy Porter, ranting anti-establishment anti-hero of Look Back in Anger, shook up audiences with his new sound. But when the play was revived at Derby earlier this year to mark its sixtieth anniversary, Porter and Osborne felt rhetorically one note and theatrically one trick.
This led to a slightly ominous feeling about Osborne’s second-best-known play, The Entertainer, coming up for re-examination. Although the play was premiered at the Royal Court in 1957, this revival is part of another sixtieth anniversary – the Suez Crisis, the disastrous British intervention in Egypt.
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