The first production of Look Back in Anger, in May 1956 at
London‘s had a tremendous cultural impact and was perceived as giving voice to a frustrated lower middle class. The three-act play takes place in a one-room flat (monolocale). It opens with the three protagonists – Jimmy, his wife Alison and his friend Cliff – on a Sunday afternoon. Royal Court Theatre
In Act I Jimmy spends the time tormenting Alison and Cliff. Jimmy and Cliff are sitting around the table with the Sunday newspapers, while Alison is ironing (stirando) clothes. She is wearing one of Jimmy’s old shirts. In Act II, Alison’s friend Helena arrives: Jimmy does not stop provoking Alison and Helena persuades Alison, pregnant (incinta), to leave Jimmy, and then takes her place as his lover. Alison goes away with her father, a Victorian military general. Jimmy’s rage (rabbia) has origin when his mother left him and his father, a volunteer (volontario) back from the Spanish Civil war who was dying for injuries. As a matter of facts (in realtà) Jimmy feels nostalgia for that Victorian past which gave security and rules whereas (mentre) in the modern world, after World War II, there are no values left. Act III opens with Jimmy and Cliff sitting around with newspapers, while
, wearing one of Jimmy’s shirts, is ironing clothes. Alison returns. She has lost her child. Helena departs (se ne va), leaving the field (lasciando il campo) to Alison. Alison then totally humiliates herself before Jimmy who evidently finds nothing more to rage about (niente per cui arrabbiarsi) and stops being verbally violent. Now Alison has suffered as he did in the past and is longer (non è più) an adequate target (bersaglio) for his invective. The play ends with Jimmy and Alison playing their infantile role-play game (gioco di ruolo) of Bears and Squirrels (orsi e scoiattoli).