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George Orwell's 1994 Dramatic Elements Critique

1495 words - 6 pages

“No one is free, even the birds are chained in the sky.” – Bob Dylan

A spotlight moves through the audience, searching, staring deep into the minds of the victims as they sit unknowing of their fate. Democracy has fallen and there is no hope. The lights fade and there is silence. The stage is empty. Big Brother is watching.

George Orwell’s novel 1984 springs to life with this stage adaptation presented by the highly entertaining theatre company Shake and Stir. In the totalitarian society of 1984, lies, myths and false information dictate the population and this is portrayed beautifully in the theatrical presentation of the novel. 1984 tells the story of Winston, a man with no ...view middle of the document...

The roles in the performance are uniquely developed and different for each performer. Winston is not just the lead character, but also a twisted representation of humanity, the real life population, and what we would do in that situation. His convincing portrayal surpassed any expectation. The audience watches Winston throughout the play develop as a person as his hate for The Party develops. In the beginning of the play Winston is going through his everyday routine, which involves falsely proclaiming love for the party, which helps him survive. As the play continues Winston loses all hope and his he begins to not care about getting caught. This character development is captivating for the audience who identify Winston as the person they should emotionally connect with. The minor roles of Tom Parsons and Syme create an interesting feel to the play. Once they are killed off or ‘evaporated’, they appear in a number of different roles such as guards in the Ministry of Love or policemen arresting Winston and Julia. This double use of cast members creates a simplistic feel that stops the play from becoming overcrowded and complicated.


Julia’s role in the performance plays a significant part, as she is the only female present throughout the play. Her personality screams hope for a better life in contrast to the other actors’ characteristics of doom, dismay or love for The Party. Julia’s development through the play is subtle but well executed. She begins as just another resident in Oceania but transforms into the only symbol of confidence and hope presented in the show. This helps to further develop Winston’s character by Julia’s influence rubbing off on him. O’Brien’s character is the final observable role in 1984. O'Brien is an inner party member and the only one the audience physically witnesses. For all we know, he could run the whole operation, as he seems to be very powerful when Winston is in the Ministry of Love by even showing mind reading powers. O'Brien is different to the other characters not only in his physical stature and age (being distinguishably older) but also in his appearance. He wears a suit but in the same uniformed ‘overall’ fashion as the rest of the cast. This part of the role represents his power (the suit) while still being controlled by ‘Big Brother’ (the work overalls). The significance of the hierarchy is fundamental to Orwell’s idea that Winston has no power and even inner party members are not fully in control.

The mood in 1984 explodes in the audiences face from the first second. Despair, heartbreak, torture and tyranny were feelings that the audience was expected to feel during the performance. The dark set aided the mood in its endeavor to achieve these feelings. The tension was evident as soon as Julia and Winston started their romance with hovered movements and purposefully dropped lines playing a pivotal role. Not only was there sexual tension between the couple but tension created by the...

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