★★★★ “EmpathEyes Theatre Company’s deeply relevant production of 1984 will send your mind into overdrive”
Don’t miss the last four nights of 1984 at ZOO!
★★★★★ “Intense and powerful. A triumph.” Fringebiscuit
★★★★★ “Physically impressive and deeply disturbing.” FringeGuru
★★★★★ “Arresting.” Remotegoat.co.uk
★★★★ “Slick, sexy and utterly terrifying.” The List
★★★★ “Spectacular physicality.” BroadwayBaby
★★★★ “Leaves the audience with much to think about.” Three Weeks
★★★★ “inventive and original.” EdFringeReview
★★★★ “This production will send your mind into overdrive” The Scotsman
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Check out what Edfringereview have to say!
As a fan of the original book, theatrical adaptations of ‘1984’ interest me, and this production by EmpathEyes Theatre was no disappointment. Much of it was how I had originally pictured that ‘1984’ should be adapted for stage: Winston Smith (Theo Gordon) is an awkward, intense character who is easily drawn in by the sensual and sexy presence of Julia (Kate Hesketh), and then falls into the cleverly set trap of O’Brien (Daniel Addis) and his treachery. These three provide the central dynamic of the play, which to my mind seems appropriate, as they are the most central characters in the book. The stage-craft is something that should be highlighted: the use of a screen at the back to project images and films is inventive and original, such as an all-seeing eye to represent when Big Brother is watching and when he is not. Similarly effective is the choreographed ensemble movements of the whole cast, such as at the opening of the play when they all wake up in their underwear and go through a synchronised morning routine. There is also creative use of nondescript boxes to signify a variety of settings, such as Winston’s hiding place when he arranges them together to block out Big Brother and write in his diary.
Another highlight for me is the music: including live instruments in the play adds a level of involvement to the events, and the fact that some band members occasionally step out into the performance as other characters is also impressive. The intimidating presence of the Thought Police is excellent, signified by the putting on of a gas mask and a certain sound effect. Winston’s torture scene is an engrossing spectacle, with use of a strobe light to signify his torture by electricity. Although at points the dialogue of some of the background characters is a little unsure, this is probably an inherent risk of an adaptation of books, particularly a relatively short one like ‘1984’. This production is certainly enjoyable and entertaining, and proves that Orwell’s writing is still relevant enough for actors and audiences to feel its message is still important enough to be observed.
Opening with a stream of perfectly timed choreography, half-naked bodies and live music, it’s clear from the outset that this is no generic adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian tale.
Winston Smith (Theo Gordon) is a man on the verge of rebellion against the totalitarian figure Big Brother who has re-shaped the modern world. Encouraged by the slippery O’Brien and fellow party member Julia, he sets about trying to break free of the oppressive regime he is trapped in.
Helped along by expertly placed audio-visual effects (the live orchestra is a rarity and a treat) this contemporary staging is so polished and precise it could almost be the product of Big Brother himself. Given the subject matter of 1984 there’s the potential for melodrama, but the cast often works in whispers rather than screams to greater dramatic effect. The whole ensemble never misses a beat, ensuring an engaging and energetic show that has the audience at its fingertips.
Slick, sexy and utterly terrifying, this has to be one of the highlights of the Fringe so far.
Zoo, 662 6892, until 27 Aug (not 15, 22), 6.40pm, £8 (£5).