Monday, 7 September 2015

1984

Big Brother is watching you.

Not all that long ago, I read the famed book by George Orwell: a bleak, depressing tale that resonates all too well in today's society. This stage production, I can safely say, is one of the best plays I have seen to date.

Tickets cost a mere £19.84 (see what they did there?) and, with no interval, it was 101 minutes of edge-of-your seat sensory overload.

Let's start with the book. The only deviation from the story was the beginning and end designed to bring the play into today's age to keep us ever thinking, "Are we truly free?" These new characters discovered the 'diary' of Winston, and decided that yes, indeed it was based on horrific true events but that they are now free from that past.

Or were they?

The small cast who played multiple roles led by the every-man Winston Smith, protagonist, thought-crime offender, lover and hypocrite and the upright and uptight Julia was impressive and utterly engaging. As I did with the book, I held out a little bit of fruitless hope for them. Silly me.

The set was incredible: it was a layered design, with the safe bedroom scenes acted off the stage and ironically displayed to the audience via a giant screen. Room 101 was an enormous, plain white set, which became progressively splattered with blood. It is better to describe it as a horror play, with the torture looking (and feeling and sounding) all too real. Strobe lighting was used to distract and confuse, with high pitched feedback designed to make us uncomfortable as we were unable to escape the squealing in our heads.

1 hour and 40 minutes later, we walked out of the theatre, hushed and contemplative.

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.

 Big Brother is watching you.