I have been looking forward to the latest play, ‘Look Back in Anger’ at The Old Fitzroy Hotel for weeks. It is a fittingly ‘Olympic’ combination of acting talent, directing brilliance and technical creativity in the design of sets/lighting/sound/costumes. The only question in my mind was the ability of this cutting edge 50s play to resonate in the twenty first century.
I was surprised that the play sounded so beautiful in its prose whilst delivering such angst. The direction allows us to savour these exquisite lines, aware that the action takes place mid twentieth century but without awkward or self conscious references to the period. Damian Ryan is Australia’s best director of Shakespeare and he has a gift for making plays contemporary without necessarily presenting them in current dress and with modern trappings such as i-phones. His co-director is an extremely accomplished actress, Lizzy Schebesta whom I have had the pleasure of seeing perform as far back as 2012 at the Old Fitz in a lovely play Fallout.
Last night’s production was definitely gold medal quality. Andrew Henry in the difficult role of Jimmy was glorious. It is difficult because of the speed with which he must deliver eloquent ( albeit nasty) speeches in his perfect East London accent, but also because maintaining our interest and connection with his character requires tremendous delicacy in the way he interacts with the other characters. The other cast members are excellent, and I particularly liked Chantelle Jamieson’s take on Helena.
The stage has been completely altered so that the action is as close as possible to the audience, and the full width of the stage is utilised. The effect is stunning.
This play has a season at The Old Fitz before moving to the Belvoir. I am betting that Andrew will be nominated for a Best Actor award to make it four in a row. Buy tickets immediately because these Old Fitz plays are often sold out once word gets around, and the previous play had waiting lists. It is a wonderful play deserving of this talent laden production. Bravi!!