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4:02pm Wednesday 9th October 2013 in Entertainments
GEORGE Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece is a classic that still resonates with audiences today, if not more so now than ever.
As a lover of the book I was looking forward to seeing what Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan had done with it, and their adaptation didn’t disappoint.
Using the book’s appendix, which Orwell felt was crucial to the story but which has not been dramatised before, the play starts and ends with a group of readers discussing Winston Smith and his diary in an unknown future.
Creating a constant dialogue between the past, present and future it raises some interesting questions, such as whether or not you can trust the evidence and how do you know what’s really true, that stay with you long after you leave the theatre.
It was intentional, but I found this part of the play a little disjointed and difficult to follow and I was glad when it settled into the real heart of the story.
Even then the story was told as if it were recorded, with sudden pauses and replays of scenes as though Winston’s life is on a loop, Icke and Macmillan playing mind games just as O’Brien does with Winston in the Ministry of Love.
The scene in the ministry is done particularly well, causing the audience to jump and cringe as Winston is taught to love Big Brother.
The whole cast put in a stellar performance but Mark Arends (Winston) and Tim Dutton (O’Brien) really shine in the finishing scenes.
Chloe Lamford’s clever design creates Winston’s world and a video screen is used to allow us to look over Winston’s shoulder at his diary and spy on him and Julia when they think they are alone, making us Big Brother.
This is a fantastic production, definitely worth seeing whether you have read the book or not and you will leave the theatre questioning your own freedom and notions of history and future.
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