Look Back In Anger – Form and Structure

Look Back In Anger, by John Osborne, had a huge affect on British audiences in the 1950's. John Osborne focuses on real life issues. The 'kitchen sink' drama style of Domestic realism became a style that mirrored the language of everyday speech, and shocked the audience of its time with its bluntness. Osborne managed to do this by creating realistic characters. These challenged and attacked contemporary society. All of Osborne's characters shocked the British audiences because of the issues and controversial situations they found themselves in.

Osborne used issues that were topical in the 50's such as sexism, poverty, the class system and nuclear disarmament. The debate in the 50's said that the male, three -act well made play misrepresented female sexuality and female experience and that the well-made, three act play represented male sexuality and that it all builds up to one big bang and its over. Osborne brings the play to life with the protagonist, Jimmy Porter. Jimmy's character is very sexist towards Alison, his wife. Jimmy: put the kettle on. Alison: do you want some more tea? Jimmy: I don't know. No, I don't think so.

Jimmy expects his wife to do things for him. This is the case even when he doesn't really want anything. In the play, Osborne, chose to use a style of theatre called Social Realism. This is a style of theatre aiming to re-create real life with the intention of exploring issues relevant to that society. Look Back in Anger is a play that pioneered this genre. Osborne mimicked real life. In the 50's men did not see women as equals. Osborne makes this clear throughout the performance. This is one of many reasons why the play generated a huge response because issues like this were not supposed to be out into the open.

In the 50's society kept everything behind closed doors, Osborne challenge society by openly discussing these issues in a vibrant and engaging production. Despite creating a controversial new play that affected 1950's Britain, Osborne actually borrowed many qualities of a style of theatre called 'the well made play'. This style of theatre was devised by Eugene Scribe and was a principal play writing formula for European dramatic writing for over 100 years. There are many similarities of style, yet Osborne adds a difference of content. The well-made play parallels many features that are found in Look Back in Anger. 1.

A plot based upon a withheld secret. (Alison is pregnant and Helena and Jimmy are having an affair. ) 2. A series of ups and downs. (There is not one mutual or stable relationship or conversation throughout the whole of the play. ) Osborne goes on to use many stylistic devices within Look Back in Anger's structure. The play has cyclic qualities. Patterns are also repeated within the play. In the beginning of act three scene one, John Osborne parallels the opening of the play. Helena has replaced Alison in Jimmy's flat. In the beginning of Act one, Alison's things have been on the dressing table, now Helena's things are there.

In the middle of Act one, Cliff and Jimmy start play fighting, this eventually gets out of control, leaving Alison with a minor burn on her arm. Then when Alison moves out, in the middle of Act three Cliff and Jimmy are having a similar play fight where they fall near Helena but she does not get burned. This, taken metaphorically, suggests Helena's feelings for Jimmy are less intense than Alison's. Throughout the play there are three acts. Act one has just one scene whereas Act two and three has two scenes. Between each Act there is a time gap.

From Act one to Act two there is a two-week time gap. From Act two to Act three there is a several month time gap. There are also time gaps between the scenes. From Act two scene one to Act two scene two there is a very short time gap of one night. Whereas from Act two scene two to Act three scene one there is quite a long time period of several months. Finally from act three scene one to act three scene two there is the shortest time gap throughout the whole of the play it is just a few minutes later. I believe that John Osborne has used these time gaps to make the play more realistic.

By doing this the reader can follow the play with ease because Osborne does not use flashbacks. I like the continuity of the play as Osborne keeps time in chronological order. This makes it easier to read and you can follow it more. This maintains the realism of the play and focuses the audience's attention on the outcome. Osborne repeatedly uses monologues throughout the play. He doesn't use other dramatic techniques such as choruses, tableaux or epilogues because these techniques would not happen in real life and also it distances the audience from the events of the play.

When I performed one of Jimmy's monologues, I found he had a very sarcastic and annoying manner about himself. The monologue was towards the end of Act two scene two. I found I had to be very sarcastic when Helena hands him a letter from Alison. Jimmy: "Oh, its one of these, is it? Did you write this for her? Well listen to this then. " Osborne uses Jimmy's sarcasm to maintain the audiences attention. The audience are aware of Jimmy's dominant force of personality by his repeated use of monologues. He repeatedly asserts authority within the play structure. He drives the action along and monopolises speech.

If I were to perform this play, I would make it as realistic as I could, following Constanin Stanislavski's method acting. Before the realistic drama of the late 1800s, no one had devised a method for achieving this kind of believability. Through their own talent and genius, individual actresses and actors had achieved it, but no one had developed a system whereby it could be taught and passed on to future generations. Although John Osborne did use the style of Stanislavski he interpreted it to his own unique style of play and he has done this to his full potential.