1984

George Orwell’s magnum opus novel 1984 is eerily relevant today despite being published in 1949 and shows us a world of constant war, omnipresent surveillance and propaganda conditioning. The King’s School plainly present a retelling of the novel that somewhat lacks imagination and vigour.

If you are a fan of the novel, you will enjoy the simple storytelling but there’s not much else to catch your attention.

The piece has been abridged in such a way that the whole piece seems to be in staccato, we can hardly get into the scene before it’s the blackout and a sound effect of the door closing. The production lacks flow with these awkwardly choppy transitions, making it difficult to follow the story and to connect to our characters. We only begin to feel for the protagonist when we get to what must be the longest of the many rapid scenes. As the show continues, it becomes somewhat frustrating to see the lights go down and know that we’re jumping on once again.

Despite a few little line fumbles, the cast is focused, capable and do deliver the performance as permitted but what fails to capture the audience is probably a result of the rather banal direction from Rebecca Hatten. The whole show felt rather lifeless and mixed with the ridiculous heat of the room, it felt as if the whole audience were itching for the show to end. It takes our leading man Winston (Edward Ramsey) almost half of the play to warm up but once he does, his performance was emotional and passionate, and slightly disturbing during the torturous scenes – a much needed reprieve from the monotony of the long set up premise. His burst of energy is a thankfully received and juxtaposed against the calm, composed and confident evil of O’Brien (Barney Rule).

It’s difficult to know what else to comment on as there was not anything which was an outrageously bad move, but there were no risks taken and therefore it was a bit of a non-event with not very much to comment on. The King’s School’s 1984 lacked the innovation and vitality to lift the words of Orwell’s frightening and suspense-filled novel off the page and, for the most part, was generally mundane. We are told the story of the dystopian tyrannical society but without any verve to engage an audience. The eager cast endeavour but are let down by a lack of captivating direction. If you are a fan of the novel, you will enjoy the simple storytelling but there’s not much else to catch your attention. 

Reviews by Katie Daniel

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Performances

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The Blurb

The King’s School’s sixth-form theatre company present a fresh and contemporary version of Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984. Protagonist Winston Smith wrestles with oppression in Oceania, a place where the Party scrutinises human actions with the ever-watchful Big Brother. Defying a ban on individuality, Winston dares to express his thoughts in a diary and pursues a relationship with Julia. These criminal deeds bring Winston into the eye of the opposition, who then must reform the nonconformist.

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