April, 1984. 13:00. Comrade 6079, Winston Smith, thinks a thought, starts a diary, and falls in love. But Big Brother is watching him – and the door to Room 101 can swing open in the blink of an eye….
Headlong theatre – the same company that has just signed up Matt ‘Dr Who’ Smith to star in their version of American Psycho, and is behind dramatic West End hit Chimerica – come to Liverpool bringing George Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future to life, when their stage version of the classic novel 1984 comes to the Playhouse later this month.
Created by director Robert Icke (who paid a visit to the venue last September, at the helm of its own production The Alchemist) and writer Duncan Macmillan, is in town from Tuesday October 29 to Saturday November 2.
They say – and it’s no stretch of the imagination, given the headlines generated by the likes of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning – that with its chilling depiction of perpetual war, pervasive government monitoring and incessant public mind control, George Orwell’s 1984 is as relevant today as it ever was. This reimagining filters it through the lens of contemporary culture, where Big Brother and Room 101 are ideas that prevail, and the notion of surveillance – online data tracking, Prism, and CCTV cameras – is all too much a part of our everyday reality.
And in the role of Winston Smith will be Mark Arends, last seen at the Liverpool Everyman in Macbeth (2011), following appearances there in The May Queen (2009) and the brilliant Urban Legend (2008).
You may have already read this interesting piece in the Guardian, explaining how in the spirit of this production Headlong have created a additional experience for audiences through a mobile app. The project explores the relationship between Orwell’s vision and the use of digital technology in contemporary society, confronting participants with their own Digital Double – give it a go at digital-double.com.
MADEUP still remembers Tell Tale Theatre’s brilliant adaptation of 1984 at the Kazimier a few years ago – will it beat that?