Theatre production designer Alan Tagg died November 4 in London. He was 74.
Tagg's career spanned several eras in London theatre, from the early days of the upstart Royal Court to productions at the then-new National Theatre and Chichester Festival. His work was also seen at Royal Shakespeare Company, the West End, and on Broadway.
Tagg was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield, England, and trained at the Old Vic Theatre School. One of his early successes was the original production of Look Back in Anger, John Osborne's kitchen-sink drama, which, with its brutally frank dialogue and grimy setting, caused an earthquake in British theatre. He also designed The Entertainer,one of Osborne's greatest hits, which was notable for its depiction of a seedy seaside music hall. He was, however, equally at home with other kinds of plays. His designs seen in New York included Look Back in Anger (1957), The Entertainer (1958), All in Good Time (a flop in 1965), Black Comedy (1967, which earned him a Tony nomination), the Royal Shakespeare Company revival of Dion Boucicault's London Assurance (1974), The Constant Wife (1975, starring Ingrid Bergman), The Kingfisher (1978, with Rex Harrison and Claudette Colbert), Whose Life Is It, Anyway? (1979), Corpse! (1985), and Lettice and Lovage(1990, with Maggie Smith). Tagg generally designed scenery only, although he did costumes for some productions as well.
According to The New York Times obituary, Tagg once "said that scenery should not draw attention to itself but should simply provide the backdrop, 'just as long as the actors don't bump into it.'"