By Elisha Hammond
In a time of political unrest, social uncertainty and ethical turmoil, drama, literature and music have a chance to create art with a message that both shocks and challenges us.
The theatrical production of 1984 does both of these things. It’s hard hitting and powerful, amping up the drama and shock factor to drive its most important messages home.
A commentary on surveillance, subjectivity and self, 1984 is based upon the infamous novel of the same name. Written by George Orwell in 1949, the story follows a character called Winston, who decides to go against the grain and his government to pursue freedom of thought and action.
According to Winston, this freedom comes from feeling- the ability to understand and express emotion without fear or the need to hide. As the play progresses, it becomes clear that facing your emotions and allowing yourself to think beyond what you are told is the only way to rebel against the austere and mysterious ‘party’ that holds government.
1984 becomes even more appealing when you understand the context of the novel and why its themes are so relevant today. It goes beyond looking at the government as ‘the big bad monster’- it asks what we have personally done to put it there, and whether we really want social change.
Relevant as it may be for to the current times, the theatre retelling is certainly not for the faint hearted. Peppered with jump scares, strobe lighting and some particularly gory bits, some scenes will leave you shaking. Uneasy laughter alternated with stunned silence was a common reaction amongst many audience members. But the jagged edges are there for a reason, and they really contribute to the story 1984 sets up and messages it promotes.
The many incredible performances (Terence Crawford being a noteworthy standout) combined with jarring, intense sound and lighting design make the West-End production one you won’t soon forget.
1984 runs through to August 13 at His Majesty’s theatre and is well worth checking out. Remember, the news is all lies anyway.