EDINBURGH FRINGE 2012
Venue 124, Zoo Monkey House
When stories become as familiar as George Orwell’s 1984 it is easy to overlook them because we think we know them. Big Brother and Room 101 have become assimilated into popular culture through trivial television programmes.
Sometimes a retelling of a familiar story restores its original power to shock us out of our everyday complacency. That’s true of Matthew Dunster’s simple, but nevertheless powerful adaptation of 1984, presented by EmpathEyes Theatre.
In the oppressive atmosphere of Oceania under the rule of the omnipresent Party Leader, wrong thoughts as well as wrong deeds are treated as crimes. Language has been redefined to design out the possibility of ‘thoughtcrime’. Big Brother sees everything. Under his rule people have no trust and even fear their children, all of whom are members of the Spies. People are dragged off in the night and are never spoken of again. One of Winston Smith’s colleagues, Symes, was arrested after one of his children denounced him for thoughtcrime. He was overheard saying something against Big Brother in his sleep. Although they know that rebellion is futile, Winston and Julia have had enough and decide to resist Big Brother.
This hard-hitting stripped down to basics approach to the story brings home the true brutality of Big Brother’s regime; perpetual war, enforced cheerfulness, ‘doublethink’ and the image of Big Brother’s political power, a boot stamping on a human face forever.
***** Five Stars