CATHERINE AIREY isn’t looking back in anger.
Corpus Playroom, 24th-28th April, 7pm, £5-6
Directed by Stephen Bailey
Stephen Bailey’s all-female Look Back in Anger could have been a disaster. But it worked surprisingly well, probably because the decision to cross-cast didn’t feel like a big thing. It wasn’t a pushy theatrical ‘statement’, despite what the programme (Which I had to pay for! What is Corpus management coming to?) might have you believe. For most of the play I could comfortably ignore the fact that the men were played by women – a credit, of course, to the actors’ ability and the producer’s design elements.
Anna Isaac’s Jimmy certainly wasn’t lacking in masculinity. Her character was very believable – offering both aesthetic and economic explanation, for example, as to why her hair is unusually long for a man’s. More importantly, Isaac successfully pulled off Jimmy’s volatile and offensive temperament. The continual flow of insults had the potential of becoming tedious and monotonous, but she effectively balanced this with moments when Jimmy is to be pitied which Isaac played with great sensitivity.
The most impressive performace of the night, however, was Siân Docksey’s Cliff, offering comic relief in the midst of domestic disaster. Her Welsh accent was impeccable, as was her dedication to male body language.
The cast in general was very impressive, though the narrative did fall a little flat at times. This could perhaps have been remedied by some script cuts, as the play did feel long. The decision to include an interval (yes, an interval at the Playroom) was therefore very welcome, even if it did cause us to look back in hunger at all the real food left on stage.
In the final act of the play, despite one character’s claim that ‘it’s not the same’, it’s painfully clear to the audience that – in spite of all the drama and anguish we’ve witnessed – nothing’s really changed since the beginning. Bailey worked repetition into this scene eerily well, evoking a genuine sense of déjà vu without the play becoming repetitive.
And, if that’s not enough to convince you to part with a fiver, you’ll get to see some girl-on-girl snogs, and will be treated to a bit of singing and dancing. Oh, and I also learnt a new word: pusillanimous.