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Play is right up my street; Young reviewer VICTORIA WATSON gives her take on Look Back In Anger, at Northern Stage until March 21.

ONE of Coronation Street's bestknown bad guys takes to the stage as the "original angry young man" in Erica Whyman's adaptation of John Osborne's 1956 play.

Bill Ward takes his character of Charlie Stubbs and puts him in a 1950s' context.

Once again he's an arrogant, shorttempered bully, but this time the tyrant is a 25-year-old university graduate so disillusioned with life that he has ended up marrying upper-class simpleton Alison (played wonderfully by Nia Gwynne) to win what he describes as "a battle between classes".

The play opens on a tedious Sunday afternoon where intellectual Jimmy (Bill Ward) playfully harasses lodger and co-worker Cliff (Rob Storr) into letting him read "the posh paper".

Although the atmosphere seems friendly enough, it soon becomes apparent that non-conformist Jimmy is simply like a sullen schoolboy who snipes, whinges and fights until he gets what he wants, losing interest soon after.

At some points, the character seems like Harry Enfield's Kevin the Teenager, a huffy attention-seeker.

With a massive chip on his shoulder, Jimmy believes it is he who is hard done by, not the people he seeks to make miserable. His mood can swing in a matter of seconds.

The psychology behind Jimmy's character is fascinating. As he becomes increasingly brutish, one wonders how he became so emotionally disconnected.

However, I would have preferred to know more about his experiences than seeing the product of such incidents.

Ward gives a spectacular performance as a man who enjoys making people feel uncomfortable and afraid.

Rob Storr's Welsh accent is a disappointment although his two dimensional representation of Cliff embodied the "turn a blind eye" spirit that inhabited the 50s.

Laura Howard gives a robust portrayal of Alison's strongerminded friend, Helena.

Look Back in Anger raises many poignant and complicated questions about love, friendship and right and wrong.

This production emphasises the feeling of isolation and the fact that women will always fall for the bad boy despite knowing it will end in tears.

Despite this play being about an angry young man, it really does show a wonderfully complex female friendship between Alison and Helena. It's a great story of struggle and redemption.


POWERFUL PERFORMANCE - Bill Ward stars as the angry intellectual Jimmy
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 11, 2009
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