Scarred both mentally and physically by Spain’s civil war and then World War II, George Orwell had but four years to pen his two masterpieces Animal Farm and 1984 before he died as a relatively young man in early 1950. Both of those books tell of the distortions of language and the control over the masses by elites, those with the power wielded without much compunction over those without it, otherwise indistinguishable in look, form or spirit.
Winston Smith (Tom Conway) is gripped by the poison that the world around him is monstrous and that writing about it, his only solace, is both futile as well as likely to accelerate the day they come for him.
This new adaptation created by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan and produced by a host of theatrical enterprises including our own State Theatre Company is a visually stunning assault on the senses. Conway is excellent as the troubled but fallible soul swimming helplessly in the murky waters dictated by O’Brien (Terence Crawford with a taut and menacing strut) while Ursula Mills (as Julia) skilfully making her way down the middle road of whether she is Winston’s partner or traitor.
The staging is terrific perhaps highlighted by Tim Reid’s video design where we are allowed access into the intimacies of the bedroom, but if we are can see them who else may be as well? At times, particularly in the opening scenes voice projection was an issue, leaving the audience to almost sink or swim on picking up the story but none were in any doubt about the white hot events in Room 101.
Often even recycled theatre will mimic events of the day and 1984 is certainly pertinent in a world of fake news, the Trump effect (has 2050 come early?) and social media even if this production was first performed nearly four years ago – an insightful and prescient initiative on a world then forming.
Kryztoff Rating 4.5K