The Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre Company present George Orwell’s Animal Farm in a remarkable, poignant enactment of the dangerous rise of tyranny in a state where ideals of freedom and equality are distorted by figures of authority.
The Tumanishivili Film Actors Theatre Company provides a magnificent satirical performance of Orwell’s masterpiece.
At Manor Farm, the animals are far from happy with the way Farmer Jones treats them. They decide to fight for a new social ideal named Animalism and revolt against the cruel sovereignty of humans. Their idealism wavers, however, as it becomes clear that although the pig leaders proclaim all animals equal, in reality some of the animals are more ‘equal’ than others.
The show, performed in Georgian, is doubly tense as it evokes the figure of Josef Stalin who, though unmentioned, looms like a spectre over the action. At first, being faced with a foreign language makes the audience feel acutely separate from the ‘animals’ onstage. But, as the action unfolds, we grow used to the surtitles and become caught up in the action, making it easy to forget the language barrier. We feel more and more akin to the animals, fitting the play’s satirical intent, which likens human behaviour to that of animals.
The set and costuming are simple but effective. A stack of hay bales sets the scene and a list of the laws of Animalism hang as a backdrop. The laws stand as an ironic reminder of the political ideals the revolution was based on - these rules are modified or disregarded as the action unfolds. The twenty-two cast members are dressed in simple costumes that only suggest animals, but the animals emerge through the physicality of their performance and their impersonations of animal sounds.
The large cast size is an asset, as the ensemble perfectly embodies social chaos without being chaotic in itself. The many characters move around the stage in a skillfully choreographed fashion, symbolizing the play’s consideration of the clockwork of society – how it functions until the nuts and bolts that keep it rolling are damaged or removed. The twenty-two strong cast also guarantees the powerful use of song in the performance – their unified voices, strong and confident at the beginning,dwindle as their unity falters.
The only drawback to the performance is perhaps the surtitling, which could be improved. Indeed, at times it is slightly off kilter with the actions and contains the odd error. Moreover, the songs are not subtitled, and although this does not detract from the powerful portrayal of a people unified in revolution, we’re left wondering what we’re missing.
Nonetheless, the Tumanishivili Film Actors Theatre Company provides a magnificent satirical performance of Orwell’s masterpiece. They put forward a thought-provoking enactment of the disheartening untenability of idealistic equality that’s well worth your time and money.