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Review: 1984 at London's Playhouse Theatre


A breath-taking adaption of Orwell's masterpiece... and no, Big Brother didn't make us say that...


Where do you think you are? This breath-taking adaptation of Orwell’s meditative masterpiece on authority and censorship is uncommonly arresting. Big Brother is watching you. Ruptured realities and nonlinear narrative imbue this shock-therapy session with more than just twists and turns – it swoops and dives, loops the loop, crashes into itself and explodes all over the audience. The show runs, without interval, for 101 electrifying minutes, totally immersing us in the totalitarian territory of Oceania.

The party loves you. Sam Crane stars as Winston Smith – a man trapped in a fundamentally fractured future. Or it could be the past. Where do you think you are? Crane is captivating – taking us on a hypnagogic hike through the depths of delirium, defying the ever-watchful Big Brother as he claws at the edges of existence - desperate to see past the fraudulent fundamentals imposed by those all-seeing eyes - ‘The Party’. From joyful jubilation as he commits sexcrime for the first time, to ***CENSORED*** in Room 101, Crane impresses throughout.

The entire cast is doubleplusgood. Hara Yannas delivers a strikingly seductive performance as Julia, Winston’s partner in thoughtcrime, ably inhabiting deceptive depths, so that we’re never quite sure. Where do you think you are? Tim Dutton chills as O’Brien, and Stephen Fewell gives sound support as Charrington – the owner of the only place left in which the past still exists. Does the past exist? As Mrs Parsons, Mandi Symonds speaks for us all when she asks how we’d know if ***CENSORED*** want us to think, adeptly augmenting the mental maelstrom with maternal momentum.

Where do you think you are? This plusgood adaptation of Orwell’s meditative masterpiece is uncommonly plusgood. Big Brother is watching you. Lighting design from Natasha Chivers staggers and stuns, eerily enhanced by sound from Tom Gibbons. It’s time for the Two Minutes’ Hate. The Party loves you.

Where do you think you are?

Definitely not to be missed. An acid-trip reality flip. Failure to attend is thoughtcrime. The Party loves you.

1984 is running at the Playhouse Theatre. For more details, visit playhousetheatrelondon.com

Words Richard Unwin, @Richard_Unwin

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