On a chilly Autumn evening on Wednesday the 9th of September I had the great pleasure of watching the Playhouse Theatre Company’s performance of 1984 created and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan. As an adaptation of the beloved classic by George Orwell, the performance left us with chills and confusion as a part of the Nottingham Playhouse’s ‘conspiracy season’.
The story takes place in an unknown year, where ‘The Party’ and ‘Big Brother’ are always watching. Anyone could be an enemy and life consists of rationed food like chocolate and scheduled ‘hate screenings’. Winston (played by Matthew Spencer) questions this reality by trying to distinguish his real memories from the fake, created ones.
“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”- 1984
As the play begins and the safety curtain parts, the scenery immediately catches our eye: the clever screens above the doors and windows instantly let us know that Big Brother is always watching. The scenery took form of an antique, wooden library cleverly designed by Chloe Lamford to change into whatever scene it needed, from a library to a fresh field, all by the simplicity of changing lights, script and characters. The flashing lights along with the terrorising sounds such as the high frequency noise made the audience feel the slight discomfort just as Winston felt.
These lighting and sound cues (by lighting designers Natasha Chivers and Tom Gibbons) created a great atmosphere to the play and made it a memorable experience.
Additionally the cast of eight must be acknowledged for not only a difficult play, but a play with no interval! Matthew Spencer and Janine Harouni’s characters of Winston and Julia had a fantastic chemistry on stage as lovers who, to an extent, are restricted in their love for each other. Christopher Patrick Nolan who played the character Nolan, was very physically controlled and almost robotic which fitted the character and the play perfectly.
This play will send you on a rollercoaster of confusion, sadness, anger and well…back to pondering. I would suggest this play from ages 15 years and older due to the subject matter, slight sexual content and gore.
Performances are every night until Saturday the 26th of September, so buy your tickets quickly before they sell out!