1984 | Raven Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

1984 The Short List (Theater) Image Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Mondays, Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 8 2017

Director Robert Tobin's program notes for his AstonRep Theatre Company production of 1984 says he was inspired to tackle the material by "the recent political climate." Unfortunately, in trying to bring George Orwell's great 1949 story to the stage for 2017 audiences, he's turned to a bland, mediocre 1963 adaptation that feels as if it was written for high school actors half a century ago. Scripted by Robert Owens, Wilton E. Hall Jr., and William A. Miles Jr., this stiff, stodgy play drives home Orwell's ever-timely message—about how governments can manipulate language and knowledge for power over their people—but fails to make the audience care about the characters whose actions trigger that theme. There's no sense of urgency in the furtive romance between Winston Smith, a worker in the "Ministry of Truth" of a Stalinesque totalitarian regime, and his comrade Julia, with whom he futilely conspires to oppose the all-powerful, unseen "Big Brother" (who may or may not exist). When the most interesting character in a performance of 1984 is the villain—the interrogator O'Brien, played by Amy Kasper as an efficient bureaucrat who finds genuine fulfillment in converting Smith to a party loyalist through brainwashing and torture—you know something's off. —Albert Williams

Price: $20



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