George Orwell’s 1984 is one of the most iconic dystopian novels ever written – and anyone who’s read it will know it’s definitely not a walk in the park. Instead, this novel focuses on surveillance, nationalism, the revolution, and language. And it’s pretty darn intense. Since its release, many producers have tried to interpret Orwell’s vision onto the stage and screen, but never come close to the intense brutality of Orwell’s recurring themes. Until now.
In the latest Broadway production of 1984, audience members have reacted in a pretty intense way – with many vomiting, fainting and even fighting amongst each other and with the actors on stage. According to reviewers and critics, the whole production does not shy away from the horrific acts and themes presented within the novel, especially during the intense and graphic torture scene which the main character, Winston, has to endure.
Although audience members were warned before they entered that this was not ‘your grandma’s Broadway production’ and children under 14 were not permitted to view the show, many people were still not prepared for what awaited them behind the theater doors. One of the directors of the new production has spoken to the Hollywood Reporter about the graphic and intense nature of the show, and the audiences extreme reactions.
We’re not trying to be willfully assaultive or exploitatively shock people, but there’s nothing here or in the disturbing novel that isn’t happening right now, somewhere in the world: People are being detained without trial, tortured and executed. We can sanitize that and make people feel comforted, or we can simply present it without commentary and allow it to speak for itself.
Fellow director, Robert Icke then went on to add,
You can stay and watch, or you can leave – that’s a perfectly fine reaction to watching someone be tortured. But if this show is the most upsetting part of someone’s day, they’re not reading the news headlines. Things are much worse than a piece of theater getting under your skin a little bit.
Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, sales in the dystopian novel have increased, making way for new and unique ways to express views and opinions on the current state of the world, which is what these directors intended.
I hope this show makes people question everything they’re being told. All we’re saying is, the truth matters.
What do you think? Is this a step too far? Or showing the general public how sheltered we have become?