Around the halfway mark of this production of 1984 at Nottingham Playhouse, it started to dawn on me that I was watching something very special indeed.
As a novel, 1984 must be a treasure trove for those wishing to adapt it, packed with big ideas, plus memorable images and characters that stay long in the mind.
It is rich source material and adaptor/creator team Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan have served up a theatrical experience that is a triumph on all levels.
This is one of those rare productions - courtesy of Headlong Theatre Company and Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company - where all aspects work beautifully.
The plot is familiar enough so I won’t use precious space going over old ground but suffice it to say that there is plenty of imaginative freshness on display to avoid any feelings of staleness for those who have read/seen 1984 plenty of times before.
There are so many good things about this production.
Of the actors, Mark Arends beautifully brings out all of the damaged, bewildered and yet brave aspects of Winston Smith, while Hara Yannas is also good as the dangerously rebellious Julia and Tim Dutton is excellent as a physicallly imposing, superficially mild-mannered O’Brien, the Party official who becomes Winston’s torturer.
The rest of the cast of nine turn in exemplary performances too.
The use of sound, lighting, stage design, costume and particularly the filmed sequences between Winston and Julia that open out the action are first-rate.
This fantastic production, which will stay with you long after you’ve left the theatre, is on until September 28.