George Orwell’s 1948 novel 1984 created a totalitarian dystopia which holds a startling relevance for many in the modern day.
The Salisbury Youth Performing Arts, in conjunction with Space-time Performing Arts, present their own take on Orwell’s work. Not only in adapting it for the stage but playing with gender, presenting the piece with a majority female cast.
Despite altering the gender of Winston (Jade Watson), O’Brien (Isabelle Trezise) and others, this has little impact on the play’s overarching messages. These young actors represent their characters well. Jemmah Rattley is a convincing Julia, and Keenan Green captures the spirit of the old landlord. In particular, in the final scenes between O’Brien and Winston they hold their own, with Trezise capturing O’Brien’s intensity well.
As an adaptation, this version of 1984 fails to capture the atmosphere of unease and the loneliness Winston experiences prior to meeting Julia. In trying to fit such a complex story into a 90-minute performance many aspects are inevitably lost. But this adaptation holds ambitious ideas and with what seems like a global sway towards autocratic regimes, the slogans of 'war is peace', 'freedom is slavery', and 'ignorance is strength', feels very close to home.