Mar 31, 2009

1984: The Book: The Production

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine brought to my attention an off-broadway production of every high schooler's collective favorite dystopian future novel, 1984. I, not being one to miss such a heroic attempt at live-action, low-budgeted adaptation, sought to buy tickets to see a Saturday matinee performance of it. At a paltry $25 per ticket (plus applicable convenience charges), this 80-minute uninterupted spectacle of postmodernism is well worth the price of admission.

Without spoiling too much, this envisioning of the 1949 George Orwell novel does a more-than-adequate job at capturing the disconnected, lonely feeling of Winston's troubles throughout the course of the story. Naturally, minor details are cut in favor of cramming the main plot points into something that's just barely under an hour and a half, but the important bits are there. It's done by a group of artists known as the Godlight Theater Company, who have worked on similar adaptations of other novels such as Blindness, Slaughterhouse Five, Farenheit 451, and so on and so forth. I could go over their merits as a company, but to be honest this is the first time I've ever heard of them, so if you're so inclined to learn more about them you can just click on the link. That's the magic of Al Gore Presents : The Internet, Hard at Work!, hard at work.

The acting was delightful, especially the pasty, soft-spoken yet intimidating man who played O'Brien, although Julia looked somewhat similar to a girl I once dated who dumped my loser ass swiftly, so that totally took me out of it. I also very much liked how the actor who played Parsons reacted in an explosion of nervous fury when he was sentenced to Room 101, as his sentiments very closely parallel mine whenever I'm told I have to go to school, or work, or outside, or basically anywhere that involves leaving my basement.

Perhaps the most interesting of design choices involved the lighting - there was often a square of light in the center of the stage, which was treated differently in each scene (for example, in one scene it's treated as an imaginary table). The telescreens were depicted by four women standing at the outer edges of the stage, quietly chattering away as the action unfolded in the center and wonderfully illustrating the claustrophobic feel Big Brother hammered down on the doomed city.

It's currently being shown at 59E59 on 59th Street between Madison and Park, and it's a grand old time and highly recommended by this sci-fi fart in the wind, so take that as you will.

(Cross-posted on a lesser blog.)