John Osborne

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Plays by John Osborne

Déjàvu

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

It's a Sunday morning. Jimmy Porter and his friend are going through the papers, from time to time scornfully reading out bits while Alison works busily at the ironing board.

Déjàvu? It's not 1956, but a generation later. John Osborne returns to the characters from Look Back in Anger in a savage and brilliant exploration of Britain, thirty years on.

Déjàvu was first performed at the Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead, in May 1992, and subsequently at the Comedy Theatre, London.

The Entertainer

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

This play about the life and work of a second-rate music hall comic (brilliantly created by Sir Laurence Olivier in the original production) and staged only eleven months after the opening of Look Back in Anger, secured John Osborne’s reputation and has become a classic of 20th century drama.

The Entertainer was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in April 1957.

Epitaph for George Dillon

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

'Epitaph for George Dillon absorbs and fascinates because it is that rarest of theatrical phenomena, a realistic modern drama which is not bourgeois in its underlying assumptions. It is like a familiar building caught at an angle which suddenly makes it look like something never seen before.' Harold Hobson, Sunday Times, 1958.

Epitaph for George Dillon premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1958.

The Hotel in Amsterdam

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Six London friends, whose lives and work are overshadowed by a demanding film producer, flee the country for a weekend to escape his clutches.

Safely ensconced in a hotel in Amsterdam, the uneasy equilibrium that has existed between them is joyously exposed as the alcohol starts to flow.

John Osborne's funny and moving account of friendship won the Evening Standard Best Play of the Year Award in 1968. The play was revived by the Donmar Warehouse, London, in September 2003.

Inadmissible Evidence

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

I can’t escape it. I can’t forget it. And I can’t begin again.

Bill Maitland, a middle aged lawyer, struggles to avoid the harsh truths of his life. As those closest to him draw away, he puts himself on trial to fight for his sanity. John Osborne’s poignant, witty and compelling portrait of loss, betrayal and defeat releases the author's characteristic display of soaring rhetorical venom to powerful effect.

First performed at the Royal Court Theatre in 1964, Inadmissible Evidence received a major revival at the Donmar Warehouse, London, in October 2011.

‘This is a work of stunning and intemperate power, a great bellow of rage and pain… there is a self-lacerating honesty about his writing that few other playwrights have come close to matching.’ Daily Telegraph

Look Back in Anger

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Look Back in Anger presents post-war youth as it really is. To have done this at all would be a significant achievement; to have done it in a first play is a minor miracle. All the qualities are there, qualities one had despaired of ever seeing on stage – the drift towards anarchy, the instinctive leftishness, the automatic rejection of “official” attitudes, the surrealist sense of humour… the casual promiscuity, the sense of lacking a crusade worth fighting for and, underlying all these, the determination that no one who dies shall go unmourned.’ Kenneth Tynan, Observer, 13 May 1956

Look Back in Anger… has its inarguable importance as the beginning of a revolution in the British theatre, and as the central and most immediately influential expression of the mood of its time, the mood of the “angry young man”.’ John Russell Taylor

Look Back in Anger was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in May 1956.

audio Look Back in Anger

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Jimmy Porter barely ekes out a living running a candy stall by day and playing jazz trumpet by night. Although he usually takes his frustrations out on his emotionless wife, Jimmy's scathing tongue and self-loathing seems destined to destroy everything.

Set in the UK at the dawn of the 60’s social unrest, this savage morality tale spawned the phrase “angry young man.”

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

Steven Brand as Cliff

Moira Quirk as Alison

Simon Templeman as Jimmy

James Warwick as Colonel Redhorn

Joanne Whalley as Helena

Directed by Rosalind Ayres. Recorded by L.A. Theatre Works before a live audience at the James Bridges Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in March, 2012.

This recording also includes an interview with Dan Rebellato, author of "1956 and All That: The Making of Modern British Drama".

Featuring: Steven Brand, Moira Quirk, Simon Templeman, James Warwick, Joanne Whalley

Luther

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Luther is John Osborne's powerful drama about the German Protestant reformer Martin Luther (1483–1546). It was first performed in 1961 by the English Stage Company at Nottingham's Theatre Royal.

A Patriot for Me

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

A Patriot for Me shows how a young, able and ambitious officer of the Imperial and Royal Army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was, through his homosexuality, blackmailed into becoming a spy for Tsarist Russia.

When John Osborne wrote A Patriot for Me it was not licensed for public performance by the Lord Chamberlain. In July 1965 the Royal Court Theatre, London, had to be converted into a club for the first production to take place. This volume contains a list of the cuts and alterations requested by the Lord Chamberlain – to which Osborne refused to agree.

The play was revived by the Royal Shakespeare Company on the Barbican stage in October 1995.

Time Present

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Time Present premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1968.

John Osborne was born in London in 1929. Before becoming a playwright he worked as a journalist, assistant stage manager and repertory theatre actor. Seeing an advertisement for new plays in The Stage in 1956, Osborne submitted Look Back in Anger. Not only was the play produced, but it was to become considered as the turning point in post-war British theatre. Osborne's protagonist, Jimmy Porter, captured the rebelliousness of an entire post-war generation of 'angry young men'. His other plays include The Entertainer (1957), Luther (1961), Inadmissible Evidence (1964), and A Patriot for Me (1966). He also wrote two volumes of autobiography, A Better Class of Person (1981) and Almost a Gentleman (1991) published together as Looking Back: Never Explain, Never Apologise. His last play, Deja Vu (1991), returns to the characters of Look Back in Anger, over thirty years later. Both Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer were adapted for film, and in 1963 Osborne won an Academy Award for his screenplay for Tom Jones. John Osborne died on 24 December 1994.