Pros: This is a bold and unapologetic piece, which gives the audience food for thought. The group of eight actors all work well together to create a highly dramatic piece, filled with tension.
Cons: The start of the production is very confusing as the play jumps through various times and the audience is left wondering what is actually going on.
George Orwell’s 1984 was written in 1949, and yet even 66 years later, the topics explored by Orwell are still as relevant as ever. It tells the story of a controlled state, run by Big Brother, who watches the citizens’ every move – controlling what they watch, what they eat and even what they’re able to think. It is a terrifying thought, but one that people are living today, perhaps unknowingly. We broadcast our every move on social media, checking in on Facebook wherever we have dinner or drinks and are watched by CCTV cameras in the streets, bars, on public transport and in restaurants.
The play begins with a book club discussing the book, with Winston Smith (Matthew Spencer) sitting at the table listening to the various views of the readers. It then jumps to Smith’s ‘reality’ and his meeting with Julia (Janine Harouni). Convinced she is a member of the ‘Thought Police’ (Big Brother’s spies), he watches her warily until she requests to meet him secretly and they connect over their hatred of the surveillance state they are watched by.
The play is extremely uncomfortable to watch – not only when we witness Winston’s visit to Room 101 where he is tortured, but also when we realise just how much of our own lives are monitored and how much information we voluntarily share publicly. Sound Designer Tom Gibbons and Lighting Designer Natasha Chivers combine to create a cacophony of sounds and flashes of blinding light that leave the audience disorientated, yet this only adds to the theatrical experience offered up by directors Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan.
Overall this is a production performed by a strong group of actors who work well together to create a highly dramatic piece, filled with tension. It is a fantastic medley of light, sound, video, and the set itself make for an intriguing and unforgettable experience. This adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian classic is a bold and unapologetic piece, which gives the audience food for thought.
Author: George Orwell
Adapted and Directed by: Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan
Playing until: September 5 2015
Booking Link: http://www.showsinlondon.co.uk/show/1984
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