1984, A Comedy

Well, that’s a lie. I can’t help but wonder how this show came about. “Hey I know! Let’s take Nineteen Eighty-Four - you know, that book about a future in which an omnipresent, omniscient dictator commands a world transformed into a grey, humourless dystopia - and turn it into a comedy! What a really zany idea!” Eurgh. Orwell must be spinning. I don’t know which was worse: the lack of acting ability (with one exception) or the painfully unfunny attempts at satire. It was too much and at only an hour long the damn thing seemed interminable. Let’s start with the word “comedy”. Now, I think the comedy part of this show was supposed to be the references to (nearly) current events. We had Peter Mandelson, the credit crunch, the NHS, the expenses scandal, Alan Titchmarsh (no, I don’t see it either) and Tony Blair. OK, but none of those things were around in 1984. Have these people read the book or just gone on Wikipedia to find out the central points and cobble together a script that’s supposed to be funny? If you’re going to make 1984, A Comedy, then set it in 1984 with the world that Orwell created. There are references to Britain and Dover. No. In 1984 there are only three continents – Oceania (to which Britain belongs), Eurasia and Eastasia. They are basic errors, just the same as setting a play about Margaret Thatcher in, say, the eleventh century. It doesn’t work and I have a sneaking suspicion that this is aimed at an audience who know of the existence of 1984 but have never read it and do not know its nuances. They might enjoy this swill but those of us who have studied Orwell’s magnum opus and know it intimately are left shaking our heads in disgust. Having said that, there were some moments that raised a smile, such as the back page of a copy of The Times displaying the words “this page does not exist” – that’s the essence of what this show should have been, but I’m afraid that’s about the only highlight. Well, that’s if you don’t count the fact that from my vantage point I could spy a very stylish blue plastic bag and a broom leaning casually against a wall backstage thanks to a curtain that had been left drawn back. That was nice. Some parts of this show just didn’t make any sense. There was one scene in which O’Brien and Winston don masks to hide their identities so that they may speak about rebellion without fear of reproach. Er, except they have their names emblazoned on the chests of their overalls, so it’s not anonymous at all. As for the acting, well, the less said about that the better. The actor playing Winston must have been on something. Nobody’s that shrill when completely compos mentis, and with the exception of O’Brien, who seems to have some skill, was the best of a bad bunch. The girl playing Parsons was just wooden, flat and monotonous. She was objectionable. Syme and Julia were barely noticeable, and that’s not good for one of the two central characters. In short, a cast who would not be out of place as walk on roles in a low-budget horror film. Thinking of seeing this? Don’t bother.

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The Blurb

Big Brother is watching. Watching as you watch this show. Join Winston and Julia in a battle of wit against O'Brien and not-so-secret policemen in a parody of Orwell's classic adding much needed humour. www.twoshadesofblue.org.uk

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