Thu Mar 26 2009
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
OBEY CAN'T YOU SEE? Konow, left, gets a brainwashing from Dustin Olson.
Photograph: Lucas Noonan
Visceral shock and awe are to be expected with Godlight Theatre Company, which specializes in translating contemporary literary classics to the stage. Joe Tantalo can shoehorn more narrative—often combined with impressive visual and aural effects—onto a postage-stamp-size stage than do many other directors working in larger houses. His production of Alan Lyddiard's fleet adaptation of 1984 is no exception. Andrew Recinos's soundscape chills (his use of a dentist's drill borders on genius), and Maruti Evans's quicksilver lighting appropriately jars.
But the production never taps other emotions, such as empathy and pity, as everyman Winston Smith (Gregory Konow) becomes embroiled in an underground movement against Big Brother. For the piece to have its full impact, we should understand that Winston harbors verboten feelings and thoughts. Konow rarely displays more than childlike wonder or a sort of automaton-like nervousness, and thus, Winston seems not a victim but a model citizen.
More successful are Enid Cortes, as the nymphomaniac free spirit who seduces Winston into a carnal affair of protest, and Nick Paglino, who raises sniveling toadying to delicious heights. It's painful to see both these characters' souls destroyed by the state, where government officials (played by a quartet of shrill female performers) observe the population's every move from two-way telescreens. Maybe it's only fitting that 1984's electronic elements are its most stirring.—Andy Propst
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