Pros: A vibrant production that brings George Orwell’s book bang up to date and makes it relevant for a younger generation.
Cons: The outdoor location isn’t great for people with mobility issues and it gets a little bit cold by the time the sun goes down, so bring a warm jumper.
Revolution Farm is writer James Kenworth’s update of Orwell’s modern classic and brings the story to life for today’s audiences using the language of the streets of working class England. The play is a really great collaboration between professional theatre makers, and young people from Newham. This combination delivers Orwell’s message with the insights of today’s youth.
Newham is an area not often synonymous with the arts but it was an inspired place to perform a play that considers the themes of power and corruption in society. It’s one of the most deprived areas in the UK but is just a stone’s throw from Canary Wharf, workplace of many of the most powerful and affluent people in the UK and home to many of the world’s banks.
Costumes were modern with the cast wearing jeans, tracksuits and hoodies, the uniform of kids on the streets corners of all of our cities. The simple costumes make clever use of colours to represent the different animals with customised hats, masks and face-paint. As the play continues, suits are introduced to show differentiation between those in power and those without. Another really clever twist was that the production was set with the grounds of Newham City Farm. It made great use of the space moving the audience from location to location for each of the different scenes and utilising the structures of the farm. A really clever devise was locking the audience either inside or outside of the barn to and banging on the walls during the scenes of violence and revolution so that you could hear the screams and shouts and imagine the horrors of war.
The cast of the show are a combination of professional actors and young people from Newham’s schools, colleges and drama groups. The adults led the action taking the lead roles with the younger ones playing the smaller parts. The performances were slick and confident and the cast coped well with the challenges of moving the audience around the farm. The only negative was that it was a little difficult to hear some of the cast at times because they were performing in the round and there were planes flying overhead. But otherwise this was a really great performance and well worth going to see. My partner and I agreed it was definitely a strong four out of five and well worth the journey to Newham.
This production has now finished its run.
Author: James Kenworth
Director: James Martin Charlton
Designer: Ian Teague