by George Orwell new version by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan.
Nottingham Playhouse Welling ton Circus NG1 5AF To 28 September 2013
Rue-Sat 7.45pm Mat 21 Sept 2.30pm 25 September 1.30pm.
Audio-described 24 September 7.45pm.
BSL Signed 26 September 7.45pm.
TICKETS: 0115 9419419.
then Headlong Theatre tour to 16 November 2013.
then Almeida Theatre Almeida Street Islington N1 1TA 8 February-29 March 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm except 13 Feb 7pm Mat Sat 2.30pm (from 15 Feb), 26 Feb, 19 March.
Audio-described 22 March 2.30pm (+ Touch Tour 12.45pm).
Captioned 27 Feb, 19 March 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 020 7359 4404.
Runs 1hr 40min. No interval.
Review: Jen Mitchell 18 September.
Powerful, terrifying and exciting.
Relevant as ever, George Orwell’s 1948 novel explores the state’s potential to exert ultimate power over people through propaganda, surveillance and mind-control. Digital techniques, powerful staging and outstanding performances make this an exceptional adaptation.
Winston Smith (Mark Arends) hates the totalitarian regime ruling Oceania (incorporating what used to be the British Isles). His rebellion takes the form of a diary for ‘the unborn’, away from the ever-present eyes of Big Brother.
The play opens in 2050 at a book club meeting where Winston’s diary is being discussed. At the far end Winston sits, unaware of whether it is 1984 and confused by the time slippage which allows him at once to be at home and in the future at the book club meeting. This deliberate time confusion is exploited throughout the play with O’Brien’s (Tim Dutton) voice booming out with alarming regularity, “Where are you now Winston?” – underlining the oppressive ‘Big Brother is watching you’, theme.
The audience become part of the regime – members of the thought-police watching the actions of two naive rebellious young people unfold before them. A huge screen hanging over a mundane office reinforces the illusion. The set remains relatively unchanged throughout – only when Winston and his new-found partner-in-rebellion, Julia (Hara Yannas) believe themselves beyond Big Brother’s prying telescreen does the action takes place in a cosy room displayed on screen.
When they are caught, artifice is stripped away as searchlights and the sound of helicopters fill the stage, revealing the room as part of an elaborate set. As the terrified couple await their fate, masked Thought Police flood the stage and strip away everything the audience and the characters believe real. O’Brien and Charrington (Stephen Fewell) reveal themselves amidst the confusion of betrayal.
Winston finds himself in a stark white room, encompassing the whole stage, subjected to the gruesome ‘treatment’ that will rectify his rebellious thinking, to harsh flashing lights and loud drilling noises. The audience’s reaction to his torture is testament to Arends’ superb performance as he fights to retain his self-belief before being subjected to the final horror of room 101.
Winston: Mark Arends.
O’Brien: Tim Dutton.
Charrington: Stephen Fewell.
Martin: Christopher Patrick Nolan.
Syme: Matthew Spencer.
Parsons: Gavin Spokes.
Mrs Parsons: Mandi Symonds.
Julia: Hara Yannas.
Goldstein: Richard Bremmer.
Thought Criminal: Joshua Higgott.
Designer/Costume: Chloe Lamford.
Lighting: Natasha Chivers.
Sound: Tom Gibbons.
Video: Tim Reid.
1-5 Oct Tue-Thu; Sat 7.30pm Fri 8pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Oxford Playhouse 01865 305305 www.oxfordplayhouse.com
8-12 Oct 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.15pm Salisbury Playhouse 01722 320333 www.salisburyplayhouse.com
15-19 Oct 7.30pm Warwick Arts Centre 024 7652 4524 www.warwickartscentre.co.uk
22-26 Oct 7.30pm mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Richmond Theatre 0844 871 7651 www.atgtickets.com/venues/richmond-theatre
29 Oct-2 Nov Tue; Thu-Sat 7.30pm Wed 5.30pm Mat Thu 1.30pm Sat 2pm Liverpool Playhouse 0151 709 4776 www.everymanplayhouse.com
5-9 Nov 7.30pm Sherman Cymru Cardiff 029 2064 6900 www.shermancymru.co.uk
12-16 Nov 7.30pm mat Thu 1.30pm Sat 2pm West Yorkshire Playhouse (Quarry auditorium) Leeds 0113 213 7700 www.wyp.org.uk