The five star reviews, the fulsome praise, the Olivier nominations … all of them convinced me that this show would be a very different kind of theatrical experience. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
“1984” is a thoroughly limp and sad little offering: mannered, wooden, pompous, self-conscious, unoriginal and utterly unengaging, with a bunch of actors united in their lack of talent, in their technical incompetence and in their inability to deliver a believable line. The woefully useless performer playing Winston Smith was, in particular, an acute embarrassment. Was he the third understudy or the box office intern? We can only guess.
This is a production which clearly thinks far too much of itself, its cleverness, its – oh, I don’t know, its daring? Its radical re-imagining of a literary classic? Is this what the director, cast and producer thought they had created? Really? Truly? My God.
What a dismal, dismal, dismal state of affairs. Imagine a 1st year production by the “C” stream at a fourth-rate drama college directed by a PE teacher seconded from the local primary school. You’re probably imaging a piece of work 10x better than this thoroughly abysmal experience.
We hung on like grim death for an hour, in the wan hope that this show and its cast of no-hopers, has-beens and never-will-bes would somehow salvage itself and arouse some vague interest, or forge some mild emotional connection, or half-impress us in some way. It stubbornly refused to do so. In truth, from the very first fruitily over-enunciated actorish line, we both had a horrible sinking feeling: this would not work out the way we had fondly imagined. We were on a hiding to nothing.
You can have your intelligence insulted by Big Brother at The Playhouse, or on Channel 5. They're both as bad as each other, but at least it doesn't cost £39 a ticket on Channel 5.