Friday, 9 May 2014

'1984' Playhouse Theatre ****

What a year is has been for the Almeida Theatre and Headlong with both ‘Chimerica’ and ‘Ghosts’ triumphing in the Olivier Awards. The West End transfer of Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan's adaptation of George Orwell's novel ‘1984’ was an intriguing and thought-provoking performance. ‘1984’ is a dystopian horror story and expresses the idea of the years passing by without anyone knowing what year it is. In addition, the world has been taken over by an evil dictator called Big Brother who has installed television screens into everyone's homes and businesses to spy on his subjects, and can't be turned off under any circumstances. I find that even though Orwell published his book on 8th June 1949, it is vastly current in today’s society with such technologies as CCTV and social media overtaking people's lives. The narrative is incredibly stylish and flowed with incredible ease due to the lighting design that complimented the productions’ clear and coherent scenic transitions. We are taken on a journey with Winston, a mid-twenties man who has been infuriated by the constant bombardment from Big Brother and tries to fight the power it has, but as we all know “Big Brother is always watching!” The play is vastly engaging and your eyes will be transfixed throughout and the themes are very present and the dialogue is exceptional. I found the scenes in a tortuous bunker Room 101 were incredibly shocking and at times slightly disturbing, especially the large amounts of fake blood that poured out. With such programs as’ Big Brother’ and ‘Room 101’, I wonder how many people understand their original contexts. The performances by the entire company were wonderfully performed and unbelievably compelling throughout. Sam Crane is outstanding as the central protagonist, Winston, who unsuccessfully battles with the not democratic world and becomes a victim in the horrific torturous Room 101, and he conveys the hanted circumstances with tenacity. Hara Yannas was brilliant as Winston's lover, Julia who is very manipulative as well as everyone else in the community. The direction by Ike and Macmillan was sublime as they've been able to capture George Orwell's political novel with wonder and suspense. Chloe Lammond and Tim Reid’s set and video designs were phenomenal, I found the scenes off the proscenium arch and staged in a filmic style allowed the performance to feel Big Brother’s wrath. It's spectacular beyond all recognition. It's a production I would recommend, all I can express to you is “Kieran J Knowles is watching you!.”

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