Theater: Battle Royal of the Sex Wars

LOOK BACK IN ANGER by John Osborne

The voice of Osborne is the voice of Thersites. He rails against the world around him, which he abominates as degraded and contemptible. The rhetorical force of his tirades provides the driving tempo of his plays. What is fascinating about his most potent dramas—Look Back in Anger, Inadmissible Evidence, The Entertainer—is that the hero whiplashes not only the world but also himself.

Without his self-lacerating venom, Jimmy Porter (Malcolm McDowell) would be an intolerable bully. As it is, he humiliates his upper-class wife Alison (Lisa Banes), who...

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