Tackling a production of John Osborne’s 1956 “angry young man” play – Look Back in Anger – is a daunting task. It’s a classic and the play’s main character, lower class Jimmy Porter (Brandon Walker) is so self absorbed, egotistical, selfish, offensive and demanding that you care little for him.
He uses his intelligence to manipulate and complains about almost everything. He is mentally abusive towards his upper middle class wife of three years Alison (Anna Marie Sell), and is constantly teasing their Welsh boarder Cliff Lewis (Adam Reich) who lolls around the flat reading newspapers and doing little else besides comforting the distraught and pent up Alison who irons dutifully away ignoring them both while Jimmy endlessly taunts her – pointing out all her faults.
And it is long. Clocking in at almost three hours. Ressa Graham is responsible for the slow paced production with her sometimes dainty and fussy direction.
The Seeing Place Theater has to be commended for bravery for almost pulling off this difficult feat. Once again, the acting is excellent. Brandon Walker, who is also the Artistic Director, does a commendable job and just falls short of a fully charismatic performance. One that is needed to keep an audience riveted. He shines, however in the final scene with his wife, letting down his guard so that we actually feel empathy towards him.
Anna Marie Sell as Alison is just about perfect, living and breathing her agonized feelings of love for him and desire to leave.
As her dad, Colonel Redfern, Rick Delaney is stately and cold as he ought to be. Adam Reich, as the lodger is just as annoying as Jimmy but has some deep rooted affection that he very nicely shows towards Alison. But the real discovery is Adrian Wyatt as Alison’s actress friend Helena Charles – the other woman in Jimmy’s life.
Unknowingly I rode up in the elevator with Ms Wyatt. Another man asked if she was in the show. She responded that she was but that she isn’t an actress but a poetess and that she was a replacement three days before opening and that she would have her script in hand during the performance. Well, Adrian Wyatt is an actress. An extraordinary actress. Despite the fact that she had her script (that she rarely referred to) she somehow managed all of her stage business without it interfering with anything or anyone on stage all the while keeping in character. You can’t take your eyes off of her. She’s a natural. A revelation. Go see for yourself.
Through Oct 30th. Tickets $18.00 314 West 54th Street, 4th Floor