Lift your faces

Lift your faces

“The people don’t lift their faces from their screens long enough to see what is going on.”


That was certainly true of a row of American students at the Almeida Theatre, eyes glued to their iPhones, texting their friends. Or their teachers. Or their dogs (you must read October Jones).

And they were the lucky ones.

This production of 1984 by Headlong is an irritating mixture of interesting ideas and techniques and a cacophony of deafening noise and blinding light. When it is bad, it is shockingly bad, and not in a good way. There is no real shock. There is no fear. There is no brooding menace.

There is shouting. There is a very shrill whistle. There are very bright lights.

Unfortunately there is no light shone on Orwell’s book by this too clever by half production. The use of a video wall at first is a method of seeing as well as hearing “noises off”. As well as offering a reflection of Big Brother’s screens. And in the end it is a gimmick used because it’s there.

The action of the book is being mulled over at the start and end (and occasionally in-between) by a book-club who can’t work out whether it’s fact or fiction, current or history. Winston Smith oscillates between 1984 (or whenever) and the book-club tempting us to ask meaningful questions. Like “what the fuck is going on now.”

Frankly it was like someone had the germ of a good idea of how to make this book into a stage play and unfortunately ended up making it into a ghastly mess.

It was such a shame.

There were some really good bits in this performance.

I just can’t seem to remember what they were. Or where I am.