Review by Casey Curtis
July 7, 2017
There are moments in the play 1984 where you will be fascinated — in horrified awe of the brilliance of George Orwell’s prescient vision of the future. The future is the present. The present is the past. There are moments where you will be frustrated, because the show takes on an absurdist tone from time to time and repeated dialogue and scenes seem to be like a needle skipping on a record.
Repetition is singularity. Confusion is clarity.
But overall, to not see 1984 is thoughtcrime. So important is the philosophy. So relevant is the message. So important is an awareness of the way we are manipulated with language and that those in power control that language and how we view… everything. Think it is only for today? Think it is only because of our current President? Orwell says this is the way it has always been and always will be. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
Will this be another show that you see, have deep thoughts, and don’t change a damn thing in your life? Is this another show you will see, say, “that’s so true,” and then not write a single letter to your legislators, not protest, not march? Probably. That’s okay. War is peace.
But maybe... Maybe you will have the most profound experience imaginable. And maybe it will change the way you think and maybe that is the start of a revolution. A revolution that can only exist in your mind. “Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.”
1984 is not perfect theater. It will be difficult for some to digest. Difficult for some to watch. There are depictions of torture and maiming. You might be better off just reading the book. But if you can, see it. It will be life changing. It will change nothing. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
Or skip it. Ignorance is strength.
"In periods when the world and its inhabitants seem too vicious to bear, some people find themselves drawn magnetically to what might be called feel-bad entertainment...If that’s the way you’re feeling at the moment — and why do I suspect that’s the case? — you may well find pleasurable pain in Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s discombobulating stage adaptation of George Orwell’s “1984,”... But it will be pain of a different order (possibly involving nausea) from the empathetic kind you experience reading Orwell’s ever-engrossing book.”"
Ben Brantley for New York Times
"This dramatization of George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian classic serves as a reminder. For all its moving set pieces, along with a busy, ear-blasting soundscape, frequent blackouts, blinding lights and live video, it’s strangely unmoving and low-impact. The action meanders and jumps in time, so some familiarity with the story is a must."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"When was the last time you felt scared at the theater? Not disturbed or perturbed or provoked, but scared? The harrowing climactic torture scene of 1984, adapted from George Orwell’s novel by directors Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, is intense in a way I’ve never seen on Broadway: It’s gut-churning... This gripping show rewards watching, though, and not just in that visit to Room 101 at the grotesquely named Ministry of Love."
Adam Feldman for Time Out New York
"It is truly frightening to see the parallels between George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" and the state of our union today."
Roma Torre for NY1
"The low ambient rumble heard before the performance begins signals that 1984 is going to be a grim, sphincter-clenching sit. But this emphatic adaptation of the seminal George Orwell novel, written and directed by rising British stage talents Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, reaches heights of punishing intensity that will rattle even the most jaded audiences."
David Rooney for Hollywood Reporter
"There’s nothing subtle about this unrelentingly grim adaptation of a literary sci-fi novel that’s been selling like bootleg sex tapes in recent political years."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety
External links to full reviews from popular press...