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Review: TNC Theatre Presents “Look Back in Anger”

The Islamic Studies building provided an intimate atmosphere for TNC's Look Back In Anger, which premiered this Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm. The theatre, with room for fifty, chairs was packed as the audience entered buzzing with excitement for the show to begin. As we took our seats, we noticed three actors on stage, who were silently ironing and reading newspapers.

Look Back In Anger, a play by John Osborne, wows the audience with a shockingly blunt reflection on life through the lens of four young characters who search for meaning in their world. Set in England in the late fifties, the play touches upon topics of life, love, and the pain of existence.

The production commenced as director, Shanti Gonzales, introduced the show, alerting us of a trigger warning due to themes of abuse. In a note to the audience, Gonzales described the production with a memorable quote from the play, "I thank you for agreeing to lock yourself in a room with this madness for two hours. Together, we'll play a little game. We'll pretend that we're alive."

As she stepped offstage, the scene came to life. The set was straight out of Mad Men, with a blue typewriter resting on a wooden desk in the background, and a teakettle stationed on a bureau, stage right. I was seated directly in front of two men, whose names I later learned, were Jimmy and Cliff. The two were positioned comfortably in armchairs, each reading a newspaper silently, until Jimmy burst out of his chair in an excited monologue.

Throughout the show, the plot developed as Jimmy's character delved into the meaning of life through provocative monologues, shocking language, and abusive words towards those he lived with. His lines, however offensive, were thought provoking, with memorable quotes such as, "Our youth is slipping away, do you know that?" Through the brilliant acting of Harrison Collet (Jimmy Porter), the lines came to life in a character whose eyes twitched, realistically frenzied, as he spat, "It's pretty dreary living in the American age [...] unless you are American."

Look Back In Anger masterfully incorporated moments of romantic drama and heartbreaking tragedy, portraying the harsh realities of sexism and abuse in the 20th century. The audience was transported into Osborne's world as Jimmy's wife, Alison (Kay Min), spent a large part of the first scene ironing his shirts as he shouted profanities and raged out against her mother. With brilliant acting from the entire cast, Alex Bankier as Cliff Lewis, Kate Hamilton as Helena Charles, and Thoby King as Colonel Redfern, I was thoroughly impressed with the performance. 

Look Back In Anger will be running from November 22nd, and the 26th-29th, at 7:30 pm at the TNC Theater, at Morrice Hall, 3485 McTavish.

Tickets are $6 for students and $10 for adults. For ticket reservations, contact tnc.foh@gmail.com. For more details on this production, the Facebook event can be found here, and for information on Tuesday Night Café, please take a look a their website.


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Annie is currently a second-year at McGill University. She is working towards a double major in Spanish and Russian, with a minor in International Relations, and enjoys writing about the experience of being a college student. When she's not in class, Annie also enjoys baking cookies, drinking coffee, and playing guitar.
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