Old Fire Station Theatre, Oxford
Taking on one of the 20th century's best-known novels is a brave
Orwell's terrifying dystopic vision in 1984 - a world of doublethink,
Big Brother and Room 101 - casts a huge shadow over modern culture.
What is there to add? Perhaps nothing.
adaptation by Aidan Elliott resists the temptations of political
or social allegory and sticks to the text.
1984 was not written for the stage. At times, the script feels threadbare
and 'abridged', while Elliott's laudable attempt to preserve content
nevertheless tends to cause rather numerous, and distracting, scenery
acting is competent, often impassioned. Winston (Richard Power)
is a convincing wreck, a perpetually paranoid, twisted knot of fear
and loathing of the party, while Julia (Lauren Stephenton) is all
sparky cynicism and flirty female charm, until her horrific capture
by the Tthought police. Mark
Grimmer pulls off O'Brien with credibility intact.
characters are unsubtle and one-sided, but then 1984's strength
lies not in its love story or dialogue, but in the comprehensively
horrific detail of its world of torture and totalitarian control,
a world in which humanity's finer aspects are lost. In
pain, everyone screams the same. It is this wider aspect that is
so difficult to portray.
production adds some powerful touches: giant billboards of party
slogans, voiceovers and creatively filmed sequences displayed on
a huge projector screen that dominates the stage, the all-seeing
eye of the telescreen.
it packs a punch, and a play based on 1984 can scarcely fail to
be harrowing. But it says little new. Expect nothing more or less
than homage to the novel.
Time: 19:30 plus Sat mat 14:30
Tickets: £8.50 (concs £6.50)
Fire Station Theatre
40 George Street, Oxford
Tel: 01865 297 170
the production website.