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1984 - an extraordinary, frightening, theatrical and thought provoking production

Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk

When does two plus two not equal four? When you are being subjected to torture till submission. That is the horrific answer that George Orwell proposed with his ground breaking 1949 novel “1984” that has been given an extraordinary, frightening, theatrical and thought provoking production by the team of Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan (adapters and directors) that runs through October 8 at the newly refurbished and reopened Hudson Theatre on West 44 Street.

The new seats may be more comfortable and supportive. The ability to bring an entire bottle of wine to your seat is possible – for $48.00 (is this really a good idea?) The producers seem to have gone out of their way to make this production as palatable as possible. But the words and actions speak volumes in this visionary work that seems to reflect where we are headed if not careful. In fact, we may well be on our way without fully realizing it.

Big Brother is watching over the characters in “1984” - spying on them would be a better description.

Winston Smith (Tom Sturridge) writes in his secret diary in opposition to the in control regime. He of a slight build and strong willed passion seeks to resist. The party in power is taking away certain words, trying to obliterate the past, changing facts to suit their own needs and yet Winston resists.

He is confused. But has a strength of purpose. A quiet dignity. Throughout.

Love is illegal and yet he has a secret affair with Julia (a calm and careful Olivia Wilde) who has slipped him a note stating that she loves him while seemingly ignoring him in front of others. In a brilliant stroke the directors and adapters have their affair off stage but projected on an on stage screen.

O’Brien (Reed Birney) is head honcho for Big Brother. Mr. Birney is cool, controlled and calculating. Against all odds he comes off as a likable slimy villain. He offers to help them. If they are willing to give up most of what they believe in. They only hesitate when “love” comes into question. They will not give up their love for one another.

Real chocolate. Real coffee are highly sought after commodities. As is real truth.

Much has been made of the graphic torture of Winston in Room 101. Yes it is truly horrific. But we know this is not real on stage as opposed to the nightly newscasts from around the world. But the torture looks real. It could happen. It has happened. It is happening. All too often.

“Pain compels truth.” So if you experience a little discomfort watching this production perhaps that’s a good thing – the truth of what is happening around us might become clearer and we might feel more inclined to resist the rampant corruption and lies being spewed by our very own Big Brother.

The staging is magnificent. The acting superb. The Video Design (Tim Reid) a break-through in stage craft. Sound (Tom Gibbons) Lighting (Natasha Chivers) Scenic & Costume Design (Chloe Lamford) are completely in sync with the overall vision of “1984.” Highly recommended. 101 riveting minutes without intermission. Through Oct 8th.

Photos: Julieta Cervantes Visit for additional photos