I saw 1984 tonight. Was absolutely powerful.
Overview of the story for those who haven’t read the book (shame on you if you haven’t.. shame). Written by George Orwell in 1949 – which I add so we can appreciate what a GENIUS this man is for predicting the future (in a sense) so long ago – it is a story about a man named Winston Smith, living in a world controlled by “Big Brother”.
“Big Brother” is a cunt. It is essentially a party that wants to have total control of everything, including your mind. In this world, 1984, they watch everything you do. If you are caught thinking or having any negative thoughts against the party.. you are sent to the Ministry of Love. Which sounds nice.. but it isn’t. It contains room 101. So in this world, Winston does the unthinkable – he writes in a diary. Winston knows whats up, he is aware. He knows they are controlling history, unwriting people and lying to everyone. Everyone is lost, depressed and oppressed. Winston had enough and desires change more than anything. Winston then meets Julia. They discover a place that big brother isn’t watching and the two have an affair (which is their way of rebelling against Big Brother by falling in love..). Then there is this man called O’Brien, who seems like a good cunt. O’Brien tells Winston and Julia that he is part of the Brotherhood (aka the rebels), enlists them and provides them with a book written by the Brotherhoods leader. Sanity is not statistical. Winston finally feels free, he isn’t mad after all. Then boom. Big Brother really is always watching.. and indeed had been watching them the whole time. Such a pervert. Anyway, in the Ministry of Love, O’Brien turns out to be the biggest bastard of all and tortures Winston. Winston eventually loses himself once he truly betrays Julia. This breaks him. Turning him into the mindless puppet that Big Brother wants.
Do not let my terrible overview deceive you, the book is powerful and the messages regarding control and freedom are important. They are getting more relevant in today’s society, more and more people are getting censored. We are more controlled by our technology which gives access to the government and big corporations to spy on. Whether is it is the media controlling stories and using social media to make us believe it is the truth, or organisations using our data to manipulate and sell to us. Like I said, George Orwell was ahead of his time.
Anyway I have totally gone of topic- time for the review of the play.
I’ll admit, at first I was bored. The idea that the adaptation was going to be people in a book club commentating on the book whilst mixing it in with the story of Winston.. wasn’t great. They did this for about 30 minutes, and it didn’t flow. Once they got rid of that aspect, I truly engaged. The use of the lights and sound throughout the play, really made you feel connect to Winston on his journey. Once Winston and Julia are exposed, they use this to make you feel increasing uncomfortable and uneasy. This really transforms the torture scene to another level that he book cannot capture. Andrew Gower, the actor who plays Winston really delivers, from timid Winston, to empowered Winston, and then to broken Winston, he really embodied the aspect of the characters arc. His performance in the torture scene, along with the actor who played O’Brien (I cannot locate this name anywhere, apologies) was one of the most powerful I have seen in a long time. Along with the visuals, it is truly and experience.
Yes there are parts that drag (especially the start), put it really does build up in intensity and the final hour really is tremendous.
I would recommend it, if you have read the book. Without the context I think it would be confusing.
It has had some nasty reviews. I agree that is is slow, and the beginning is boring. I saw people calling it “pretentious” and “tries to be clever”, which I think is ridiculous and people just deflecting. It is literally just adpating the ideas from a novel into a performance. The “loud and confusing, making me nauseous” reviews made me laugh I believe missed the point, they are trying to make you uncomfortable honey. It is a fair warning though. If you are highly sensitive, or absolutely hard loud noises and flashing lights.. maybe go see Funny Girl.
All in all, I give it a 7/10. The ending is worth a 10/10 in my opinion, but the dragging out at the start just can’t be forgiven.