Tag Archives: westend

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

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Theatre etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts

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You’re sitting in a red velvet seat in a beautiful old theatre, awaiting a wonderfully touching play and ready to be immersed into a different world. You’ve turned your phone off and have had a glance through the £4 programme. All you need now is for the show to start, and you can enjoy an unforgettable evening. Unfortunately, others around you have a different idea of a great evening. Talking, eating and rustling with plastic bags is part of their theatre routine. Most of the time “those” people are clueless as to why you’ve rolled your eyes at them for the third time. Just in case, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to get you started.

Don’t talk throughout the show. Yes, this should be common sense. Yet, some people still don’t grasp the concept of theatre. So, let me quickly explain this to you. A play or musical is live, there are actual human beings on stage, pouring their soul into this performance. It doesn’t only disturb other theatre goers when you suddenly have to talk to your friend about that amazing thing you did last week, just because one scene in the show reminded you of that. It might also not be a great idea if you need to explain to them what is happening on stage or translating it into a different language. That’s what a post-show drink at the pub is for.

Don’t eat your way through a bag of M&M’s or any other bag of sweets for that matter. You’re not on your couch in sweats and watching a film on a Saturday evening. I never understood the need to eat during a two-hour show, especially if there’s an interval where you have 20 minutes to stuff your face. However, if you’re absolutely starving then check out TodayTix the theatre app. They have just launched Silent Snacks, these are currently only available at In the Heights and American Idiot for a short time only. This might be a great innovation for all the snackers in the theatre.

Do get up and dance if they tell you to. A lot of shows, well musicals, have a big finale at the end of their performances. Many times, the actors encourage you to get up and dance or even just clap along. It’s a fun way to end an evening full of energetic songs and head bopping hits. So don’t be shy, nobody cares what you look like when you rock along to Lola at the end of Sunny Afternoon. It just shows the cast that you actually had a great time and weren’t dragged to the show by someone who’s a theatre enthusiast.

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Do tweet after the show. Many plays and musicals, particularly the small productions would love and need your support. Become part of a greater discussion, rather than just telling your friends about your thoughts on the show. Feel free to tweet the show and tell them how much you loved it and why, or if you enjoyed a performance by a particular actor, tweet them. In most cases, they’re happy to hear your thoughts and sometimes even reply. This is a great way to connect with the actors without waiting at stage door, as well as help promoting a good production.

Going to the theatre isn’t rocket science. People should be able to figure out that using your phone throughout a performance is not only distracting to other audience members and the actors, but also incredibly rude. The same counts for making any unnecessary noise. You want to be captivated by the performance and emerged into the world that the show takes you, without getting disturbed every few minutes.

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.

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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.