© 2019 by Henry Thornton. 

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1984 by George Orwell

July 2, 2017

1984 by George Orwell

 

Sydney Theatre Company’s adaptation/direction of 1984 by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan is masterly.  Wonderful use of multi-media by video producer Tim Reid perfectly conjures the pervasiveness of civil surveillance gone very, very wrong in a completely controlled, brutal and imploding society. Tom Conroy as ‘Winston’ and Ursula Mills as ‘Julia’ are believable as two young people who sense that there could be an alternative to the life they are living and who suffer the consequences for their free thought.

 

I remember watching the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, memorable for all the obvious, sad reasons but also for the television’s split screen which showed (BBC, I think) coverage of the event and the radically different viewpoint of the newsreels Mainland China was broadcasting to its domestic audience. This production of 1984 will bring to mind that moment in history and also stories of the carefully curated reality streamed to North Korea's population,  Chairman Mao’s children of the revolution reporting their family members for ‘dissident’ behaviour and, of course, terms like  ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’.  I could go on. For me, the most unsettling cultural identification of this production were the two-way screens implied to be in everyone’s homes, workplaces and public spaces. To think the author of 1984, George Orwell, was a man born in 1903!

 

A very clever production with a horrifying and brutal end. Perhaps the fact that a great number of younger ones now identify the term ‘big brother’ with the reality television program rather than Orwell’s novel says at least a part of it?

 

1984 by George Orwell

Roslyn Packer Theatre

Until 22 July

 

 

 

 

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