Friday, 10 May 2013
Review of George Orwell’s 1984 stage show
Last night in Hertford a tory county town if ever there was one I went to see a stage show adaptation of George Orwell’s Science fiction come political story of 1984. I wasn’t sure what to expect turning up having read the audio book before and really enjoying it and its deep and dark storyline I was unsure how the story would translate to the stage. I was not disappointed from the word go the actors on stage not many of them by the way two main characters Winston Smith and Julia his partner who works for the “party” develop a relationship together away form the prying eyes of “big brother”. The sub plot is of George Orwell’s 1984 story which details his ideas and horrors of fascism and Stalinism which in 1940’s was very real and taking over large areas of the globe at frightening rates. The ideas of the thought police, double speak, constant surveillance and keeping to a party line are quite interesting I found as in many ways you can see this in today’s society with news outlets such as the BBC who carry out the governments line/propaganda everyday with little to no scrutiny or alternative put despite their claims of impartiality . At the interval I could hear people in the seats behind me discussing how similar and freaky this feels to today and that society is crumbling around our very eyes with greater powers to the police including secret courts being pushed through into law very soon if the Tories get their way all add to the feeling that George Orwell’s predictions or premonitions were more real than even he could have imagined 60 odd years ago. You really got the feeling even if you couldn’t see the play like myself who is blind the atmosphere of the production and the sense of fear that George Orwell tried to get across that if you stepped out of line under the system you could find yourselves in huge trouble and even torture as the final part of the story details. The idea of room 101 which the popular TV show today shows is your worst fears which will force you to submit to the will of the party and the leader as it were I imagine Stalinism was very much like this with the left opposition leaders in Russia who kept their principles along with Leon Trotsky fighting for greater democracy and keeping to the original ideas of the October 1917 revolution which Lenin and Trotsky so bravely lead the working class to power. In parts the play was quite dark when Winston Smith the main character in the story was being tortured and interrogated to his thought crimes of rebelling against Big Brother and for some it borders on scary for a time but the atmosphere of this is very well done with the eventual breaking of the man to thinking the way of the party and the party line once he is “reformed”. This reminded me very much of the Water boarding episodes the US and British governments were accused of using during the Iraqi invasion to gain intelligence from the Taliban. A lot of this play reminded me that in any revolution the workers must have democracy at all times and the leaders of any movement must be accountable to those who they claim to represent. The degeneration of the Russian revolution reminds us of the need to ensure socialism is international and not isolated like Russia was. We live in a far more advanced world today and the likelihood of a violent revolution is fewer. But we must be aware any attempts for the workers to gain power will be fought with resistance from the ruling class’s who fear the loosing of their wealth and ultimately power. I’d highly recommend going to see George Orwell’s 1984 for its storyline but also its political messages. Just after the interval you get to hear George Orwell’s idea of a class structure which is still relevant today the idea of a Lowe class middle class and a high class and their constant struggle is as relevant today as ever. A timely reminder of the tasks in front of us today as socialists.