Reviews

1984 ***1/2

By: Isa Goldberg

Transferred from London to Broadway, this adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, is vividly staged and convincingly well-acted. Here Reed Birney’s O’Brien, is a totally banal character. He is no more the creator of the evil he perpetuates, than any ordinary man who fails to think for himself would be. Like the other characters in this tale – in which political terror reigns, “He’s just doing his job.” As such, he maintains a front of utmost innocence, even perpetuating violent deeds, as though he were acting out of empathy.

Carl Hendrick Louis, Wayne Duvall, Olivia Wilde, Tom Sturridge, Reed Birney, Nick Mills, Cara Seymour, Michael Potts

By: Isa Goldberg

Transferred from London to Broadway, this adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, is vividly staged and convincingly well-acted. Here Reed Birney’s O’Brien, is a totally banal character. He is no more the creator of the evil he perpetuates, than any ordinary man who fails to think for himself would be. Like the other characters in this tale – in which political terror reigns, “He’s just doing his job.” As such, he maintains a front of utmost innocence, even perpetuating violent deeds, as though he were acting out of empathy.

As depicted, in the society of 1984, thought is crime, and the words that could express thought are being eliminated. Indeed, the ability to question and think for oneself, is replaced by falsifications that nullify history, eliminate memory, and reduce reality to that which can be maintained without any conflict. Here the status quo is a pure and unadulterated state. And human experience is defined by the thought police. “They want to abolish orgasm. It’s a threat to the party,” one of the characters informs us early on in the production, which runs 110 minutes without intermission.

Later, the facts having been altered, we learn that there never was a party. Society has become pure, and happy, and there is no record that it has ever been different. Throughout all of this, there is only one character who expresses opposition. Winston, brilliantly played by Tom Sturridge, is a diarist, who, while rewriting the dictionary for the party, has been recording his daily experience from his own perspective, from his own thoughts. Regardless of his job, he is the last remaining person who knows anything about the meaning of words that existed before the “Newspeak.” As an actor, Sturridge is physically highly reactive, his psychological urges speaking through his thin, skeletal physique. Kinetic and contagious, his Winston is devoted to a selfless pursuit of the truth. As his love object, Julia, Olivia Wilde appears vulnerable, evocative and compassionate, at first. But in this staged production, the outcome of the romantic duo is ambiguous. Who betrays whom; and whether or not they are equally tortured into happy submission is just not clear. In Orwell’s novel it is.

Adapted and directed by Rocker Icke and Duncan MacMillan, this is a high-octane production. Its use of violence, while not visually graphic in the way cinematic violence can be, is emotionally alarming, as it is charged with the immediacy of being performed live.

As designed by Tim Reid, the story line is both created and recorded through videos that are shot in real time. Natasha Chivers’ lighting is haunting and well nuanced, and Cloe Lamford’s scenic design moves fluidly from the world of memories (represented by a room of antiques), to the dark confined spaces of communal life, to the future in which all of reality is brilliantly illuminated.

1984 ***1/2
Hudson Theatre
139-141 W. 44th Street
For Tickets and more information Click Here thehudsonbroadway.com
July 10 – September 3, 2017
Monday @7pm, Tuesday @7pm, Wednesday @7pm, Thursday @7pm, Friday @5pm and 9pm, Saturday @5pm and 9pm
RUNNING TIME: 1 HOUR 40 MINUTES, WITH NO INTERMISSION
Published on August 6, 2017

Photos: Julieta Cervantes

Reed Birney, Olivia Wilde, Tom Sturridge