Last Friday we attended the performance of 1984 at The Comedy Theatre in Melbourne.
The play, adapted and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan took us through the repetitive confusion of Orwell’s prediction for the future, which feels just as inevitable now as it did in 1949 when the text was originally released. The opening scenes switch quickly, all based in an office like wooden paneled room with loud buzzing and darkness switching the audience between Winston Smith (played by Tom Conroy) writing in his diary to Winston’s imagination to the repetitive life of Big Brother’s Oceania. The lines are blurred between what is real and what is imagined but all is stiff and regimented except a bewildered Winston trying to find a crack in the surveillance. Enter Julia (Ursula Mills), forbidden lust in a love note. Screens above the stage show us the information as Big Brother is watching it. People change as they walk through doors and people are erased for free thought, ‘Thought Crime’. ‘Newspeak’ is limiting the words they have to express their forbidden thoughts, but Winston manages to escape into a secluded space with his love, unwatched. Or not?
The show is only running until June 10, and we can’t recommend it highly enough. Indeed, it is certainly food for thought. The play was originally produced in the UK and has been running since 2013, and even since then the feeling of surveillance in our own lives has increased. After the excitement of the vivid final scenes we all spilled out into the night babbling about how prophetic Orwell’s story turned out to be, how the media controls how we react to world events even now, and how prevalent surveillance is in our lives. And, how we accept it. How far removed are we from this reality, and would we really have the guts to challenge it if it got this bad?
Grab your tickets for the final weekend in Melbourne from www.1984play.com.au, or if you miss this you can catch the show in Brisbane (14-18 June), Sydney (28 June – 22 July), Canberra (25-29 July) and Perth (4-13 August).
Image Credits: Shane Reid