Northern Broadsides Bring 1984 to NW

9 August 2010 by Glenn Meads

Following on from the critical success of The Canterbury Tales, Northern Broadsides Associate Director Conrad Nelson brings yet another classic to the stage, George Orwell’s nightmare and powerful vision of a totalitarian society- 1984. The new production, in partnership with The Dukes, Lancaster and in association with Stroud Theatre Company, is adapted for the stage by prolific playwright, Nick Lane, and opens at The Dukes, Lancaster from 16 September-9 October, before touring the UK until late November.

Big Brother is watching

In a totalitarian world of perpetual war, Big Brother watches over all and the Thought Police rule Proles with an iron fist. A solitary disillusioned figure, Winston Smith, wants a different life. But what begins as an act of rebellion and hope becomes a nightmare of doomed love, personal betrayal and terrifying political assimilation.

From the Party lies of the Ministry of Truth to the blind hysteria of the Two Minutes Hate, the calculated manipulation of Doublethink, Newspeak and Thought crime to the sheer terror of Room 101, the audience will be immersed in a world that is frighteningly familiar.

George Orwell’s stark, uncompromising futuristic vision pulls no punches, resonating now more than ever. In a world of dodgy dossiers, rendition, torture, CCTV, Murdoch, spin and political corruption, truth has indeed become as strange as this chilling fiction. It compels us to question how inured we have become to the excessive influence of mass media and the immoderate power of government.

Playwright Nick Lane said about his version, “George Orwell’s story of control and totalitarianism grows more prescient with every year. When I originally adapted the novel (for Hull Truck in 2005) I was struck by how relevant it still was- it meant far more to me than it did when I’d read it as a teenager. Of course, you could argue that the struggle for freedom is and will always be relevant, but it’s the manner in which the fight is fought- and lost- by Winston which has echoes impossible to ignore in modern society. When I heard that Northern Broadsides (along with the Dukes, Lancaster and Stroud Theatre) were looking to mount the play again in their own style I was really chuffed. I love the work of Northern Broadsides- had the good fortune to work there some time ago when I was still acting- and know Conrad’s work both as director and actor. The whole thing, I think, could be really exciting, and I can’t wait to see the finished product”.

The production’s cast includes Nick Haverson, Kate Ambler, Chris Garner, Andrew Price, Carolyn Tomkinson, and is designed by Sue Condie, with Brent Lees (lighting), David Phillips (Audio Visuals), and finally Rob Pointon and Karen Sayle (Animation).

1984 will open at The Dukes, Lancaster from 16 Sept and the tour also takes in Buxton.