Animal Farm

George Orwell’s classic allegory about the Russian Revolution is a serious political satire in children’s wrapping paper. Originally subtitled ‘A Fairy Story’, it swaps historical heavyweights like Trotsky and Stalin for talking pigs, and the battlegrounds of Moscow and Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg) for a farmyard; but the veil is thin, and all too soon we are reminded how idealism made way for tyranny.

the young actors brought so much energy and enthusiasm to the production that you couldn’t help but enjoy it.

In the Fringe production by Windmill Young Actors, Animal Farm was in the hands of seven 15-year-olds who brought the book to life with mixed success. While their inexperience carried a certain charm, it also served to distract from the gravity of the tale, as some actors seemed more concerned with making animal noises than delivering their lines.

That said, the most important themes came through, in part thanks to a script that was sensitive to the continuing exploitation of the working classes under the Stalin era. The key figures of Snowball (Trotsky/Lenin) and Napoleon (Stalin) were easily identifiable and worked to represent the yin and yang of the novel’s dynamic.

The production also communicated the fickleness of the masses at a time when cult of personality was the trump card. The secondary characters shifted from one side to another, according to what – or rather who – was in vogue. Zoe Alexander put in a good performance as Boxer, the tireless horse, with a kind of naïve wistfulness reminiscent of Cassie Ainsworth’s character in Skins.

For all its merits, this adaptation of Orwell’s Animal Farm felt like a school play – jejune and rough around the edges. However, the young actors brought so much energy and enthusiasm to the production that you couldn’t help but enjoy it. If they forgo the oinking and tidy up the scraps of song, they will do Orwell’s classic a lot more justice.

Reviews by Joshua Feldman

Marlborough Theatre

The Room in the Elephant

★★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Both Worlds

★★★★
The Warren: Main House

Animal Farm

★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Brainchild

★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Everything That's Wrong with the Universe

★★★★
The Dukebox Theatre

All Change

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A physical rampage of a production. Seven teenage actresses take on Animal Farm. This production shows how greed rears its head to slowly conquer the fight for freedom and equality. “Tanushka Marah's direction and choreography are simply awesome” (The Metro). Through relentless physical theatre and the political passion of seven fifteen-year-old performers the spirit of revolution is celebrated and mourned as it is destroyed through paranoia and the need for profit.