Anonymity and Anger

  • John Osborne
  • Arnold Wesker
  • Brendan Behan
  • Tom McGrath
  • Jimmy Boyle


Whilst Brecht strove towards the objective of a ‘rational theatre’ or at least one which pushed the audience towards the formulations of logical connections between social structure and individual misery, the dramatists of the Fifties, Osborne, Wesker and Behan, also made considerable impact by turning their dramatic focus onto society. However, the latter playwrights’ outrage was unashamedly informed by emotional objections to the loss of self, identity and integrity enforced by society, rather than by reference to political ideologies exposing economic and judicial inequality inherent in the social status quo. Without wishing to denigrate their startling effect upon the direction of theatre, Wesker, Behan and particularly Osborne have more in common with their dramatic predecessors than with their successors; their effectiveness frequently lay in the rediscovery and sharpening of techniques and themes familiar from Shaw, O’Casey and the naturalists. Osborne’s plays continue to be an internal guide through a modern Heartbreak House, but its lethargy is challenged by the vociferously protesting but primarily intuitive voices of its more intelligent sufferers — who nevertheless fail to escape from their tragic solitude.


Social Fragmentation Human Integrity Dirty Work Lonely Existence Startling Effect 
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Copyright information

© David Ian Rabey 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Osborne
  • Arnold Wesker
  • Brendan Behan
  • Tom McGrath
  • Jimmy Boyle

There are no affiliations available

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