The costumes were, at the start, simply grey, plain jumpsuits. However, as the play progressed and more characters emerged, tiny significant details began to appear. The main idea, I think, of the jumpsuits, was to show that in 1984 individualism was over run by society. However, as we learned more about different people and their views, little pieces of their personality are seen in the costumes.
For example, Julia’s red sash symbolized danger, love, and her bold nature, while Winston wore a jumpsuit that was a slightly different color to the rest of the characters, which symbolised however hard Winston tried to be good and follow the rules, there would always be parts of him that didn’t want to be the same as everybody else. For a more understandable reason, the slight changes of costume helped identify the different characters the actors played. They helped us relate well to the characters, and understand their actions better, which makes the performance so much easier to follow.Order now
Lighting Although during 1984 lighting never seemed important, or even noticeable, remembering the changes of brightness and color for each scene reminded me just how much it contributed to the mood of the performance. Blackouts were used not only in the short pauses between scenes, but also in the scene in the Ministry of Love. It was an extremely effective use of blackouts, and not only did it symbolise time moving very elegantly, but it also set the mood for the torture scenes: creepy, and very disturbing. Throughout the rest of the performance, the lights used were quite dim, suiting well with the bleak set, and the only strong, pure lights came from the screens in the background. This made sure that the screens at the back, and Big Brother, were never forgotten.
Characterisation My favorite actor has to be Carolyn Tomkinson. She had such a constant, brilliant quality throughout all the characters she played, including the cook, Mrs Parsons, Winston’s mother, and the prostitute, who was, overall, my favorite. I loved the way Carolyn, with only small changes of costume, completely transformed from a drunk, cackling, cockney woman to Winston’s beautiful mother. This is a prime example of how the actors morphed into other people, with the prostitute’s body tension low, and her gestures wide and exaggerated, and Winston’s mother standing up right, arms by her sides, and a gentle smile on her face.
The body language of the prostitute was easy and carefree, while Winston’s mother was reassuring. Carolyn says, ‘it is quite a challenge in the sense that I have to pay many different roles,’ and then, ‘I need to find a clear distinction between each character,’ Chris Gardener, the actor who had the role of O’Brian, also says, ‘Multi-role playing throws up many challenges – clarity of thought, quick rounded characters speed from scene to scene, lines!’ They clearly show their concern on making sure the individual characters stands out, and the audience follows each of them and understand the quick, sharp changes that make the play so unique.
The Ensemble Northern Broadsides, the Theatre Company behind the production, is very well known for producing Greek Theatre. An element of this shown in ‘1984’ was the use of choral speaking by the chorus. At any one time, most actors were present, either as characters involved in the scene or members of the chorus, either narrating the feelings of the characters or simply standing and watching, portraying the aspect of Big Brother, of never being alone.
Props In the overall performance, the number of props used was very small. To name a few, I remember clearly the briefcase, the diary and the piece of coral in the glass ball. The briefcase was where Winston kept his secret diary and Gold Steins book, it drew the audience’s attention whenever he carried it with him, making them wonder what else he kept in there, what other secrets he had hidden. The second prop, Winston’s diary, was the trigger of his lust to know.
Before he wrote down his thoughts and realised they were not his own, he had kept his head down, knowing something in the world was not right, but too scared to act upon the gut feeling. Without realising it, having the diary was his first act against Big Brother, a life changing move. The piece of coral was sold by the antique shop owner, whom Winston had trusted, and I believe the coral was a symbol of hope for not only him and Julia, but also for the individuals inside the society of 1984. The coral followed the story Winston went through, from understanding the government was corrupt, to being arrested by the police, the coral smashing onto the floor, all hope shattered.
Reaction of the Audience The general reaction of the audience towards the performance was awe. The quality of the acting was taken into account and its’ pure brilliance kept the audience silent. However, as the scenes got braver, and the torture and room 101 scenes played out, the reaction shifted to shock, and pity towards Winston. Most members of the audience were not used to the brutality of the torture scenes, however, I loved them, and one of my friends said, ‘it’s better than some pantomime,’ which I agreed with. The ‘oranges and lemons’ fiasco gained a laugh, which was lovely to have behind the depressed atmosphere. The majority of the time, the audience was silent out of respect of the seriousness of the play. Most of my peers enjoyed it, some of them not quite used to the openness of the play, but while some see it as a negative, I think it as a huge positive.
Movement Movement was a vital part of the performance. It had to be beautifully executed, but used well, which the actors in 1984 did. Some uses included the movements the actors did in cannon, for example when Winston was in his work cubical, the other characters did individual actions that created a very realistic setting. Characters also used movement to make their personalities stand out, like their posture, or their walk. The actors also used movement to show their emotions, for example the prostitute slumped and leaned in all directions, giving subtle hints that she was possibly drunk. Throughout the whole show, movement was used excellently.
Conclusion Overall, I believe the strongest aspect of the performance was the actors, and the way they changed from character to character. It was unique, and made the play special. I have seen performances before that use the same technique, however I have never seen it so expertly done, and so many character changes in such a short amount of time. The show 1984 was a pleasure to watch and unique. Not holding back made the performance truly incredible and will remain one of my favorites.