It’s a sparse office set populated by its workers, including one Winston Smith (Andrew Gower). His quiet obedience disguises a burning curiosity about the world he lives in— in this dystopian Britain, otherwise known as Oceania, thoughts are punishable offences. Winston’s job correcting newspapers of the past, eradicating things he knows to be true, is starting to get under his skin. Like Smith, as an audience you start to mistrust the people around him. Even the beautiful Julia he falls for (the ever-excellent Catrin Stewart), will she betray him? Both metaphorically and physically, Big Brother is watching over everyone. A giant screen dominates half the stage above this office, filling with words: THOUGHT, FAMINE, HATE, LOVE. Even when Winston believes he is out in fields and finally alone with Julia, the audience sees them relayed onto a giant screen.
Chloe Lamford’s extraordinary design is a huge part of this shows success. Award-winning director Robert Icke (responsible for the Almeida’s Oresteia) and writer Duncan Macmillan (People, Places, Things) are just part of one of the most remarkable theatre teams behind any West End Shows today.
When the set splits apart, leaving a stark white stage and Winston calling into the audience for help, you feel like running to the stage to take his hand, rising to your feet. It’s a terrifying and truly memorable theatrical experience.
The new cast at the Playhouse do sterling work and despite two years of performances, both in London and on tour, Headlong’s 1984 still feels unbearably relevant. And this is certainly the best stage version of Orwell’s work you’ll catch today. It’s just been extended to the end of October, so make sure to book tickets via BoxOfficeTheatre.co.uk before you miss the chance. Click the link here 1984 Tickets