Previewed 28 April 2014, Opened 8 May 2014, Closed 23 August 2014 at the Playhouse Theatre
Returned Previewed 12 June 2015, Opened 18 June 2015, Closed 5 September 2015 at the Playhouse Theatre
Returned Previewed 14 June 2016, Opened 28 June 2016, Closed 29 October 2016 at the Playouse Theatre
The return for the third time of Headlong Theatre Company's acclaimed stage adapation of George Orwell's 1984 in London at the Playhouse Theatre in a production adapted and created by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan - this production returns folllowing acclaimed seasons here in 2014 and 2015.
April, 1984. 13:00. Comrade 6079, Winston Smith, thinks a thought, starts a diary, and falls in love. But Big Brother is always watching. George Orwell's ideas have become our ideas; his fiction is often said to be our reality. This new major production explores the world inside Winston Smith's head, as well as the world without, and catches the euphoria and bliss buried deep underneath the cold face of Big Brother. In an age of mass surveillance, 'total' policing and GPS tracking, Nineteen Eighty-Four is as relevant now as it ever has been. PLEASE NOTE: Recommended for audiences aged fourteen and over.
The original 2016 London season cast features Andrew Gower as 'Winston', with Angus Wright as 'O'Brien', Richard Katz as 'Charrington', Daniel Rabin as 'Nolan Martin', Joshua Higgott as 'Syme', Anthony O'Donnell as 'Parsons', Rosie Ede as 'Mrs Parsons', and Catrin Stewart as 'Julia'. Please note that casting is subject to change without notice.
Adapted and created by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan from the novel by George Orwell. Directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan with Daniel Raggett with designs by Chloe Lamford, lighting by Natasha Chivers, sound by Tom Gibbons and video by Tim Reid.
This production returns to London's West End following two sell-out seasons at the Nottingham Playhouse in 2013 and at the Almeida Theatre in 2014 and two seasons here at the Playhouse Theatre in 2014 (previewed from 28 April 2014, opened on 8 May 2014 and closed on 23 August 2014) and 2015 (previewed from 12 June 2015, opened on 18 June 2015 and closed on 5 September 2015). Headlong Theatre Company's West End credits include Jennifer Haley's play The Nether at the Duke of York's Theatre in February 2015 presented as a co-production with the Royal Court Theatre.
The original 2014 London cast featured Sam Crane as 'Winston', with Tim Dutton as 'O'Brien', Stephen Fewell as 'Charrington', Christopher Patrick as 'Nolan Martin', Matthew Spencer as 'Syme', Simon Coates as 'Parsons', Mandi Symonds as 'Mrs Parsons', and Hara Yannas as 'Julia'.
The original 2015 London cast featured Matthew Spencer as 'Winston', with Tim Dutton as 'O'Brien', Stephen Fewell as 'Charrington', Christopher Patrick as 'Nolan Martin', Ben Porter as 'Syme', Simon Coates as 'Parsons', Mandi Symonds as 'Mrs Parsons', and Janine Harouni as 'Julia'.
When this production opened at the Playhouse Theatre in May 2014, Neil Norman in the Daily Express hailed this as "a dazzlingly theatrical take on Orwell's sulphurous masterpiece... the orchestration of complex ideas is superbly controlled by directors Icke and Macmillan... the cast is superb." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard described it as being a "stylish and sophisticated adaptation" that offers "a playful and provocative take on the grim goings-on in the surveillance state of Oceania that will appeal to both newcomers and aficionados." When this production opened at the Almeida Theatre in London prior to its West End transfer to the Playhouse Theatre Michael Billington in the Guardian said that "it is no mean feat to offer a new perspective on a familiar work. That, however, is what Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, as joint creators of this new version of George Orwell's famous novel, have ingeniously done," adding that it "makes exciting viewing." In the Financial Times Sarah Hemming described it as being a "brilliant stage version of Nineteen Eighty-Four... rather than just tell the story, this show creates a dynamic response that strips away complacency and plays on those creeping anxieties about trust, manipulation and freedom." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard praised it as being "a rigorous and prodigiously confident reimagining of Orwell's dystopian nightmare... Special mention must go to Chloe Lamford's design, which at first looks drab and retro, yet explodes into an onslaught of fierce light and buzzing energy." Dominic Maxwell in the Times thought that "this stunning play is both a bold reinvention of George Orwell's great postwar novel and remarkably faithful to it... this is a chilling, relentlessly ingenious 100 minutes," though "it's not easy to make something vividly dramatic from a novel of ideas. This pulls it off in style."
"Robert Icke's and Duncan Macmillan's adaptation finds a brilliant theatrical equivalent for George Orwell's prose. For once, the use of onstage video is justified to illustrate the regime's ubiquitous monitoring techniques. Exceptional sound and lighting make the tortures of Room 101 truly chilling. Above all, the doubling of actors as functionaries studying Winston Smith's file and a contemporary reading group discussing Orwell's novel makes Winston's disorientation all the more powerful. Sam Crane as Winston and Hara Yannas as Julia lead an excellent ensemble." The Express on Sunday
"George Orwell's dystopia long ago shaded into our present. Headlong's visually audacious multimedia production doesn't draw hysterical parallels with NSA surveillance or the tyranny of Google - it doesn't need to... The staging saves its squirm and shock for Winston's final assault by the state. Framing the show with a book group from the future, the cunning adaptation by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan doesn't challenge Orwell's own prejudices - sluts and proles are still dismissed - but as time freezes, skips and rewinds under Icke's controlled direction, Orwell's head games remain potent." The Sunday Times
"In adapting and directing 1984 Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan have pulled off something tremendous. Their production... has elements both of horror story and of trance. Crucially, they base their version on George Orwell's appendix to his novel, in which the principles of Newspeak are discussed as if by a rather fusty lexicographer, and the viewpoint and timescale of the action are thrown into doubt... A less thoroughgoing re-creation would have gone in for updating and for much underlining of Orwellian prescience. Icke and Macmillan are infinitely more imaginative. Past and future, the actual and the virtual constantly collide... The audience becomes another layer in Orwell's circles of surveillance. It is one of the feats of this important play that you realise this complicity only later. Artistic director Rupert Goold is making the Almeida essential again." The Observer
"[Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan] have truncated the book into a production that runs to a little less than two hours, but it still feels slow, po-faced and far too wordy... Mystifyingly, a fair chunk of the action is played out on a cinema screen above the set, in what looks like a chintzy Victorian bedroom. I've said it once and I will say it again - if I wanted film, I'd go to a cinema, and not a theatre. Towards the end, the piece degenerates into a parody of a trendy Eighties production with storm troopers in gas masks, strobe effects and a lot of noise. It is, all in all, a ghastly mess... The Almeida under Rupert Goold is fast acquiring a reputation as a theatre that promises a great deal and delivers very little." The Sunday Telegraph
George Orwell's 1984 in London at the Playhouse Theatre previewed from 14 June 2016, opened on 28 June 2016 and closed on 29 October 2016.