I remember hating this book when I studied it for AS Level, oh so many years ago. It was a hard book to like, to follow and to say that I enjoyed it would be, well , lying.
I have never watched the film, as George Orwell’s ideas scared me enough into not wanting to watch it, especially with what went on in ROOM 101… But when the opportunity came up to see a drama production of the book, I jumped on it! I thought “It’s been a good six years now, maybe its time to give it another chance!”
I dragged a friend along with me to The Playhouse theatre in London, where I had previously seen “Spamalot”, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t leave laughing and feeling giddy after this drama..
It began with around 6 characters sitting around a table discussing the protagonist Winston Smith, which appeared to be the youngest male on stage. They talked and talked, until they flowed into the play and the real drama began.
I could not look away from the stage, my eyes were drawn to anything and everything that was going on. Big Brother was as terrifying and as real as I had imagined he’d be, the mere sound of the klaxon or the ruthless shouts at a traitor were hard to hear and watch a the same time!
Bright white lights flashed on and off, blinding the audience, shining with no warning causing us to turn away, but then turn straight back in case we missed something on stage.
Winston and Julia’s characters came alive and they were just as I imagined they’d be. Both daring but frightened of what would eventually happen. The use of cameras on stage to show their safe place offstage worked well and the creepy atmosphere was felt throughout the play, making me feel uncomfortable and uneasy, something I’m sure Orwell was trying to do as he wrote these ideas in the book.
No one laughed, no one coughed, it was like no one int he audience even wanted to breathe in fear Big Brother would accuse them of thinking bad thoughts against the ‘Party’.
I left feeling glad that I had given the book a second chance, this is definitely one that is better on stage, acted out, so that we can really see what Orwell was trying to convey. I left the theatre believing in the ‘Party’, being scared to think anything bad, and whilst walking home alone across Hungerford bridge, I had a horrible feeling I was being watched. And I couldn’t shake it.