Category Archives: Reviews

1984 | Review

★★★★☆ Playhouse Theatre, 1984

An intense, powerful and somewhat traumatizing experience with fantastic performances that make this play a must see of the season.

1984

Winston Smith, a comrade of the outer party, opens a diary that will change his life forever. By doing so, he commits ‘thoughtcrime’ that is punished by death. He lives in a post-war world that is split into three countries, Oceania,  Eurasia and Eastasia.

The Government controls everything, what people eat, by rationing food, what they do, with constant surveillance through telescreens that can’t be turned off. Sex and love are forbidden. People are meant to dedicate their life to the party and therefore relationships are not allowed, and sex is only for the reproduction of party members. Even thinking is controlled by the government through newspeak, the language of Oceania, that decreases its vocabulary yearly and therefore ‘thoughtcrime’ will become impossible. People are brain washed and therefore don’t realise that they’re being told what to do and think.

Winston, who works in the Record Department has realised Big Brother’s control over everything and started to question his life. In the search for liberty, he meets Julia, a young comrade and falls in love. They join The Brotherhood, a secret organization by Emanuel Goldstein, an ex-Inner Party member who turned against Big Brother and is now the symbol of the rebellion. However, Big Brother is always watching.

The direction by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan is brilliant through and through. The timing reinforces intensity of certain scenes keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. However, if you’re not familiar with the story, it takes some time to understand the storyline and what is actually happening on stage, as there isn’t much background information that explains this distorted world.

Winston Smith is played by Andrew Gower, who delivers a magnificent performance that follows his journey as a frail man, who has trouble differentiating reality from false memories to opposing a suppressive government. Catrin Stewart, who portrays Julia is an excellent addition to Winston, as a young and energetic woman who knows how to lie properly in order to survive in Oceania. The staging is not only clever and efficient but also so versatile. It makes you hold your breath. One minute, we’re in Winston Smith’s home, the next in the canteen and then at the train station.

This spine-tingling play leaves a bitter sweet aftertaste. Resonating with a world that had Snowden revealing that the USA secretly used the internet for mass surveillance to spy on people and governments.

So did George Orwell predict the future? Are we all being brainwashed without realising it? These questions stay in mind, even hours after leaving the theatre.

1984 is currently running at the Playhouse Theatre until 29 October 2016

Unfaithful | Review

★★★★☆ Found 111, Unfaithful

Director Adam Penford creates an intimate play from author Owen McCafferty, that uncovers the vulnerability of relationships in a setting that leaves no space for privacy.

UNFAITHFUL pic

The problems couples encounter in various stages of their life’s and aspects. Tom and Joan, have been married and together for many years, both in their mid-fifties are unsatisfied with their relationship and life. The couple is unhappy and have stopped caring, or at least they think they did. When the husband confesses to his wife that he had slept with someone else, the marriage seems to fall apart. She hires an escort, whether it’s to get back at him or just to feel something for once. Peter and Tara, a young couple, both in their twenties. A clever girl, who dropped out of university and now works at the checkout of a Tesco and her boyfriend, who’s an escort. The two couples cross lives without knowing how much they influence each other.

McCafferty explores the intricate elements on life and relationships, he uses detailed descriptions of the character’s feelings, expressing them with honesty and the harsh reality of obstacles in a couples communication.

Niamh Cusack delivers an outstanding performance, with a perfect range of emotion, strong and subtle whenever appropriate but always enough for the small audience to take notice. In general, the relationships between each of the four actors is very clear through the way they talk and look at each other. The characters are very relatable, therefore it’s easy to understand and agree with their decisions. Sean Campion conveys a man who has lost passion for life and feels adrift, it’s almost impossible not to feel sorry for him. From a child star, playing Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series, Matthew Lewis, shows an extraordinary transition to playing a confident escort. Ruta Gedmintas delivers a brilliant performance, with her facial expressions and body language alone.

Staging is simple and uncomplicated, surrounded by the audience. The words are left to be the main aspect of the show, making the play very pure and powerful. Scenes are interesting in the sense that none of the actors ever leave the room, when one couple is on the stage the other is either sitting on a bench next to it or in a corner of it, watching and helping during scene changes. The intimate setting works well with the play and enhances the feeling of peeking into the two couples’ private life.

A truthful, real and powerful show that leaves the audience pondering about the delicacy and persistency of relationships.