Friday, 6 July 2012
Non-review: Playwright's Playwrights - Look Back in Anger
Polly Stenham is the playwright who chose this play and directed the reading, and as with Nick Payne last week you can see the through-lines of how the work influenced hers, her plays largely being a middle-class response to Osborne's working-class outbursts. (Although to really link it up to her own plays Stenham would have had to add a finale where Jimmy pisses his pants.) The performances, which again had only 24 hours of rehearsal, are a bit more mixed this week; Cumberbatch justifying some of the hysteria surrounding him by putting his all into the performance. Even sitting down with the scrip in his hand his legs flail, he gets into the frustrated, hunched ball of fury that dishes out vicious insults and despair. Meanwhile Rebecca Hall basically stuck to one blank facial expression and tone of voice throughout the afternoon. In other words both actors used their entire respective acting abilities. Maxwell Martin was also a bit disappointingly low-key and hard to hear at times. Accordingly my interest did dip from time to time, but another worthwhile afternoon all the same. We'll just have to see if any similarly big names get announced for the remaining two readings; or if, without a star draw, this will have been enough to whet some appetites for more stripped-down theatre.
Look Back in Anger by John Osborne was part of Playwright's Playwrights, which is booking on Fridays until the 20th of July at the Duke of York's Theatre.
Running time: 2 hours 50 minutes including interval.