No thoughtcrime in this Orwell classic drama

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1984

Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Any worries George Orwell’s grim political fiction is long past its own sell-by date are always offset by a daily reading of the news headlines.

Indeed Matthew Dunster’s adaptation of the great novel – first seen at the Royal Exchange in Manchester three years ago – reminds us of some of the forensic details of the future that Orwell predicted in 1949, right down to weights, measures and currency.

So much else has been requisitioned by popular culture that we now know Big Brother actually has a Geordie accent, and Room 101 is where celebrities earn a half-hour appearance fee.

But this production, from the youthful Sell A Door theatre company – their second visit here this year – does not stint on any remaining detail.

At nearly three hours (and it seems like longer in the second act’s Ministry of Truth torture dungeon), it’s perhaps too faithful to the original.

Other productions edit down Winston’s internal monologues and substitute them with performances that still convey the horror of the totalitarian state.

A year from fiction can be 
recounted in much less time.

by David Upton