1984 at the Playhouse TheatreCultureTheatre
Headlong’s highly acclaimed and brilliantly chilling adaption of George Orwell’s 1984 returns to London for a limited run at the Playhouse Theatre. Writer-directors Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan revise Orwell’s twisted plot, which highlights a sense of Britain that doesn’t just exist in a fictional 1984 but is also alarmingly relevant today.
In Headlong’s telling of the classic novel there is less focus on Stalinism as the play examines the harrowing effects of surveillance, identity, and control in the form of state-sponsored torture tactics. Andrew Gower’s feeble Winston is subjected to 101 minutes of split reality and disorientating flashbacks as he treads through the recesses of his own distorted memories. Blinding strobe lights and deafening explosions of sound separate the two seemingly different time zones Winston exists in, and make for an uneasy and thrilling theatre-going experience.
For much of the performance the air seems to be suffused with a certain tension as audience members scoff and retort at almost every political remark. Seeing as Orwell’s work is hardly lacking in polemical references, it is difficult not to compare the play’s dystopia to Britain’s present-day political climate.
The traumatised and bemused Winston along with the naïve Julia – an impressive performance by Catrin Stewart – evidently shift between a war-torn 1984 and an unspecified present day. The former is a hyperbolic dystopia indulging in Two Minutes Hate, sex crime and the Ministry of Love, and the latter a very lucid depiction of a surreal and failing world. The two characters stumbling between warped realities combined with Orwell’s clever narration makes Headlong’s production an example of iconic and anxious theatre.
1984 is on at the Playhouse Theatre from 14th June until 29th October 2016. Book your tickets here.
Watch the trailer for 1984 here: