the play is about a sort of *love square* between 4 young people in britain, 1956. jimmy, a working class man, is married to alison, who comes from a *higher* class. cliff, a scotsman, lives with the couple and has a not-so-purely-platonic relationship with alison. jimmy is vicious bear of a man: verbally and physically abusive towards alison, pessimistic, violent, and vicious. alison gets pregnant calls in her friend helena in for help. helena helps alison reach temporary peace and safety but in the meantime, falls in lust with jimmy. the play deals with relationships of every sort, and with the complex natures of love, passion, life, and purpose.
unlike america, britain didn’t have a baby-booming, madmen-style economy post-WWII. they went from churchill —> socialism —> utter confusion without seeing what was hitting them. look back in anger spawned a aesthetic tidal wave called the “angry young men” movement in britain, in which young writers expressed violent feelings of disillusionment towards the government under which they lived and grew.
the language of the play is raw and riveting—reminiscent of american realists arthur miller or tennessee williams - but why should we *care* about these whiny brits in dysfunctional relationships?
attending today’s read-through of look back opened my eyes to the universal essence of this play, and to the time-repetitiveness of social/political/artistic climate. what is more relevant to a person in today’s economic crisis than a play about young people, frustrated with political society; feeling disillusioned with their abilities to *move up,* *succeed,* *make something of themselves*; confused about complex love; desperate to make something meaningful of their lives?
get real: life isn’t easy in today’s economy/political climate. of my college-graduate friends, a sparse few have full-time jobs. even fewer can pay rent every month. as a young person, it’s practically impossible and inconceivable to be on an i-know-exactly-what-i-want-to-do-and-i’m-well-on-my-way-to-doing-it path in 2011.
but —as look back suggests— there is hope; as long as we desire for more and don’t throw in the towel, there are causes that are still worthy of a fight, love that can withstand, and a purpose for all of us.
go watch[listen] this play.