Close to the Original

 

Richard Blair attended a performance of Nineteen Eighty-Four at the Tower Theatre in London and has provided us with this report on the latest adaptation of his father’s masterpiece.

“this was an excellent production” (Richard Blair)


 

Nineteen Eighty-Four close to the original –

and with audience participation

 

On Saturday March 3, I attended (along with a sell-out audience of 70 people) this wonderful production of Nineteen Eighty-Four at the Theatro Technis theatre in Camden. The play was adapted by Matthew Dunster and produced by Angharad Ormond with a cast of 15 amateurs.

Tower Theatre 1984

The audience (proles) were greeted on entering the foyer by the cast dressed in blue overalls, Ingsoc armbands and dead-pan faces. Having been interrogated to identify ourselves, we then had to swear allegiance to Big Brother, with hand over heart and stern commands for “silence” when we were out of order. After that we were escorted in groups to our seats. The overall reaction from the “proles” was a mixture of amusement and nervous bewilderment, but all was taken as part of the “experience”. Once the play started, we were invited to stand and sing the party’s National Anthem!

Nineteen Eighty Four is a notoriously difficult play to put on without it becoming very long and tedious, so the producer has to come up with ideas that keep the audience focused and the story-line clear. Did this particular introduction work or was it all a gimmick? I tend to feel the audience probably enjoyed being involved in a completely new experience – given that probably 90 per cent may well have already read the book.

Once under way it settled down to what was an excellent, straight forward production that told the story of Winston and Julia, being faithful to the original. There was quite a long emphasis on the love making, which Orwell was a little more perfunctory about, and the torture scenes were pretty brutal. The cast delivered their lines convincingly with some long passages from O’Brien (Martin South), Winston (Paul Graves) Julia (Chloe Ledger) and Symes (Kevin Furness). That is not to say that the rest of the cast were in no way less impressive.

Tower Theatre 1984_28

” … look into that mirror again. Do you see that thing facing you? That is the last man. If you are human, that is humanity.”

In conclusion, this was an excellent production, well executed by a well-rehearsed cast. The success of this play is clear given the more or less 100 per cent attendances for the first week and bookings looked no less impressive for the following week.

 


The Tower Theatre performing at Theatro Technis, Camden until March 10, 2018.


Uploaded March 4, 2018


 

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