Not even the most explete of expletives can begin to describe how utterly mesmerising 1984 was. Initially, I expected a simple stage adaptation of Orwell’s novel – albeit a good one, judging from the rave reviews – and I steeled myself for the tedium of act-set change-act-set change. But there weren’t any until a good two-thirds through the production. And when the set change did occur, it nearly gave me a bloody heart attack. They pulled out all the stops – and by that I mean let’s-just-whop-in-all-the-sound-and-lighting-we-have – and I emerged from the theatre in sheer awe of what I had just seen.
Even now, a day later, I’m still scrambling for words with which to describe Robert Icke and Duncan Macmilan’s production. I want to laugh, I want to cry – I even wanted to throw up in the Room 101 scene, where there were copious amounts of lights, sounds and special effects. And whilst we’re on the subject of Room 101, they present it in the most fantastic way possible. They took ‘We will meet again in the place where there is no darkness’ very literally. I don’t want to spill anything about the set – honestly, it will blow your mind (and quite possibly your ear drums whilst they’re at it – because it is, quite frankly, the most incredible thing that you will ever see. And even if you’re not a fan of 1984, then I recommend you go purely for the genius that is the staging, lights, and sounds. You won’t regret it.
AND THE ACTING. THE ACTING. The entire cast was perfect. That’s all I can say. Perfect. Winston was a genius, O’Brien was a genius, Julia was a genius. In the Room 101 torture scene, I was torn between throwing up and crying – Winston’s screams were so full of anguish that I didn’t breathe for a while. Actually, I didn’t breathe until it was all over and the cast was returning for their standing ovations. And I realised that this play had honestly changed my life.
One of the most important aspects is that this play is timeless. There is nothing to differentiate between the year 1984 and our world today – the clothes and the aforementioned astounding set are neutral, which helps with the fact that the issues and lessons as highlighted in the novel are still applicable now. It gave me so much to ponder on; Communism, love, sacrifice, love, sacrifice, is it appropriate to camp out in the theatre so I can meet the cast and thank them for the performance, can I persuade the parentals to let me see it again. AND IT’S 101 MINUTES. If that’s not perfection, I don’t know what is.
I urge all of you to see 1984. It’s spectacular, and I still want to cry at the beauty of it all. *falls into philosophical meditation speculating the messages of 1984* Absolute genius.
Note: The last UK tour venue was Bath – which is where I saw it – so y’all may have to travel further afield…