1984 [live review]

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1984 [live review]

GPAC, Geelong
June 5, 2014
As a huge George Orwell fan, it is safe to say I was very interested how the dystopian novel would translate to the stage, and I was by no means disappointed.
Shake and Stir’s Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij have successfully adapted Orwell’s tale of Big Brother’s hold on fictitious state of Oceania and are also part of the incredible cast of five which also includes Ross Balbuziente, David Whitney and star Bryan Probets, who is mesmerising as the heartbroken dreamer Winston Smith. Probets’ performance is truly outstanding. With his gaunt appearance regularly projected on the large screen towards the back of the set, you really get an insight into the character’s thoughts, feeling and emotions throughout the performance
For those unfamiliar, 1984 is a truly frightening story about a world of perpetual war, constant government surveillance, and public manipulation, dictated by ‘The Party’, the all-seeing all-controlling political system headed by the infamous ‘Big Brother’. The adaptation captures the fear perfectly so, however it won’t leave you having nightmares. It is a performance that really keeps you thinking from the outset and throughout and the stunning visuals provided on the screen are vital to getting across the authority and propaganda of The Party.
For such a dark tale, I came away from this truly heartening performance completely satisfied. The young, animated cast really do take you take you on an emotional rollercoaster and were not the slightest bit thrown and even carried on with the show when the stage experienced a small audio malfunction for several minutes. To describe in ‘Newspeak’ it was ‘doubleplusgood’. The set and production was rather large-scale for a touring show and with the entirely of the stage used, the audience was really transported to 1984 Oceania.
Shake and Stir have done a great job with this production and it is a must see for any Orwell fan. It stays relatively true to the novel, and don’t be surprised if you start noticing CCTV cameras a little more regularly … Perhaps Big Brother really IS watching?
Written by Abbey King