1984 is the kind of book I definitely should’ve read, but I think one of the play’s strengths is how seamlessly the material is adapted for the stage. After reading Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale, I sort of dismissed 1984. Both of those dystopias have a unique form of control over their citizens: Brave New World controls through pleasure in order to eliminate conflict and for the prosperity of its citizens, and The Handmaid’s Tale controls through language in order to save the declining birth rates of the white race. 1984 controls through fear simply for the sake of the Inner Party’s personal whims, which I always assumed to be sort of basic. Sure, 1984’s influence can be felt in all kinds of media, but I never thought to read the original. However, 18th & Union's adaptation certainly proves the merit of the original work, and I have no shame in saying that this is how I first experienced it.
The play is set in a dystopian future and follows Winston Smith, a “records editor” who seeks to escape and rebel against the ever looming and controlling presence of Big Brother alongside his new love Julia. The play doesn’t start here however, rather the entire show is set in an interrogation room set after Winston has already been captured. The audience is shown his story through a reenactment put on by party members based on the writings they find in Winston’s diary. Marianna de Fazio, Brad Cook, Michael Ramquist, K. Brian Neel and Lyam White; Ryan Higgins facing upstage in 18th & Union's production of 1984. Photo by Marcia Davis.