A&R Review: Aquila Theatre’s “1984”

Jackson Mihm, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

An electric shock is an accurate description of the feelings imposed by Aquila Theatre’s recreation of “1984,” the novella by George Orwell. While only using six actors and the same set throughout the play, the cast managed to captivate the attention of the audience through the entire show. Acted out with precision and talent, it was the shocking and disturbing production it was meant to be.

As mentioned above, there were only six actors in the play. Each actor portrayed multiple characters switching roles in the middle of dialogue sequences, to flashbacks where each actor is portraying a different role than they were the moment before throughout the story which left no downtime for the viewer. The play took on a very fast pace and forced the viewer to be engaged attentively to the action on-stage.

They pulled the transitions off seamlessly on this express ride through the life of the main character, Winston Smith, as they detailed his encounter with the “Thought Police.” The Thought Police are employees of the government who round up people for thinking “bad” or “dangerous” thoughts, often about the government, to eliminate any potential rebellion. It also shows how much power a dictator would have if they wished to control their constituents in a similar manner.

Moments when pain or torture was involved felt real and shocking. The pain was used continuously throughout the show in selective situations to shock the audience. The play poses the question: though right now is just a show, what if there really were “Thought Police”? With advancing technology and the increase in government control, it’s hard to ignore that it is a very possible scenario. One could argue there have been tyrannical leaders in the past who have imposed similar situations on their subjects.

The play did a great job of sending the true message of “1984” and portraying the dystopia Orwell described. With the talent on the stage and great effects and planning, the cast and crew of this production must be proud of their work. It’s not necessarily a joy to watch, unnerving and profound in fact, but that is the whole point. Freedom to think, speak, and be educated, besides some exceptions, is essential in order to lead a happy life.