Manawatu Theatre Inc
The Globe Theatre
Directed by Scott Andrew
16th June 2017
It’s likely that most of us have heard of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, many of you will have studied it at school, and be aware of its ominous predictions about increasing surveillance and control of society. That’s loosely what I knew about ‘1984’ before I attended the opening night at The Globe, that and that ‘Big Brother’ was somehow associated with the novel. I expected a political performance and wondered how entertaining that could be. Handily the Penguin Books publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four is available to purchase with a programme for $15 if you want to take a piece of literary history home with you.
The stage set is minimal, and functional, with industrial lights and bar-codes setting the sterile scene. I’m put in mind of being under surveillance as soon as I sit down and find a cast member already on stage, shackled, and lying face down. Can he hear what we are saying? Sam Gordon (Winston) remains shackled for his entire emotional performance. I got way more than I bargained for as soon as the show started.
Using mind games, flashbacks and a loud, aggressive, unseen interrogator this play doesn’t gradually unfold but more - explodes in your face. Audience members in front of me were squirming and turning their faces away. Sam Gordon’s portrayal of Winston was so realistic that my toes curled with every torturous, blood curdling scream he emitted. At times I wanted to stand up and yell ‘STOP’!
Newcomer Jess Linsley slips in and out of character, at times playing one of the party members interrogating Winston, and at others playing Winston’s love interest –Julia. Her role as Julia was exceptional; she exuded a confidence on stage that belied the experience she could have had at her young age. Her intimate sex scenes were perfectly delivered, vulnerable and touching. On top of that Linsley delivered an original, short, beautiful song that gave me goose bumps.
Three other party members participated in the interrogation of Winston. Acting out in flashback-style all of the crimes of Winston in painstaking detail. All carried out the challenges of the task with excellent execution. Matt Waldin was tasked with acting out Winston’s affair with Julia and did so tenderly. Mark Kilsby nearly brought me to tears in a desperate portrayal of Winston’s starving inmate companion, imprisoned and begging for mercy.
Director Scott Andrew has done an excellent job of delivering this Michael Gene Sullivan adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. As an audience member I felt the full brutal interrogation raining down all around me and winced as every demanding question belted out at a helpless Winston. This was a totally believable performance by all the cast with exceptionally strong performances by Jess Linsley and Samuel Gordon.
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