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REVIEW: Animal Farm, Salisbury Playhouse
8:36am Wednesday 23rd January 2013 in Entertainments
I HAVE always been keen to see a performance of George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm, so when I heard Guy Masterson was bringing a “hilariously comic” and “powerfully poignant” solo performance of the political satire to Salisbury Playhouse, I was full of anticipation.
Unfortunately, this one-man storytelling fell somewhat short for me and I was left disappointed and, although I hate to say it, bored.
Orwell wrote the story in the 1940s as an explicit criticism of Soviet communism and dictator Josef Stalin, and it suggests that any revolution will be corrupted because nobody can resist the allure of power and privilege.
Animal Farm is a powerful story and still has relevance in today’s society.
Masterson’s interpretation has played at the Edinburgh Festival, in London’s West End and all over the world in the past 17 years, so I had high hopes.
Maybe my expectations were too high, but for me this interpretation just wasn’t compelling enough. I felt the show, at more than two hours, was too long and the set too bare, with just a wooden box adorning it and some occasional lighting and sound effects to create drama.
Masterson was skilful at recreating the many different characters and his portrayal of Squealer, the spin doctor pig who tries to convince the other animals that ruling pig Napoleon’s increasingly bullyboy tactics are in their best interests, is particularly strong.
But I didn’t think it really worked with just one man and I didn’t find it “hilariously comic” or “powerfully poignant”, as it has been described.
Many of the audience applauded enthusiastically at the end, so maybe I missed something.