1984 : proceed to Room 101
I think it’s safe to say, the last time I read this book, not one of these kids was born. And by kids I mean the senior class of the Arts Umbrella touring group who originally put this piece up in the spring. Since then they have completely recast the production, one of their own has taken over the reins as director and they went for a new look on the design side (apparently the originals greys weren’t quite totalitarian enough).
In a stifling little gym I sat on some wood bleachers and sank back into this dystopian little tale of control versus resistance, state versus individual, love versus hate, in short, good versus un-good. Some nifty little staging devices lent a nice bent to the proceedings and the ever-present EYE of Big Brother watching from up stage centre gave the empty space an ‘Orwellian” feeling for certain. However, how do you cram a complex tale of censorship, nationalism, sexual repression, futurology, dystopia and the cult of personality (to name only a few of the themes) into an hour-long play so it can be understood AND enjoyed? You can’t.
The kids give it a good try and I really enjoyed a few little touches like the red sash of renouncement, but none of these flourishes were really built upon or examined. So, in the end, it serves as the cattle prod of intellectualism by forcing me go pick up a copy at a yard sale later that afternoon. I want that story straight from the horses mouth while I can still read it in ‘oldspeak’ before that spineless little wimp Winston gets his hands on it and translates the damn thing before tossing it into a ‘memory hole’.
I’m not going to recommend that they be ‘vaporized’; perhaps they just need a trip to Room 101.
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