LOOK BACK IN ANGER, Lucid Theatre Productions, at Preston Bradley Center for the Arts. Everybody has encountered at least one Jimmy Porter: sharp, opinionated, sarcastic, educated for better things but forced to piss his life away on nothing jobs and hating every minute of it. The beauty of John Osborne's brilliant, bracing 1956 play is that he gives us a quick sketch of an utterly unlikable man and then, over the course of three angry, beautifully written acts, tricks us into caring about him--and even identifying with his predicament.
The tragedy of Lucid Theatre's flat, dull production of Look Back in Anger, as directed--or rather misdirected--by Kay Cosgriff, is that almost none of Osborne's brilliance shows through. The performances are dreadful; the pacing is painfully slow. Scenes that should crackle and smoke, like Porter's long Pinter-esque complaint in the first act, just fizzle.
No one seems particularly well cast or directed. Timothy Browning's Porter is nasty but not particularly smart, or even all that angry. Christie Caron Hubbard as Porter's wife seems less a woman trapped in a bad marriage than a college girl on a bad date. And Thomas McNamara as Porter's stuffy father-in-law is so stiff he seems pickled in formaldehyde. To top it off, the performance space has an awful echo that gives the whole mess the aural ambience of a badly done porn movie. --Jack Helbig