Thursday, July 27, 2017

Live Theatre Review - Outre Theatre Company's 1984


When it was written in 1949, the dystopian world depicted in George Orwell’s 1984 may have seemed far-fetched, but in 2017, every day it seems a little more prophetic. Therefore, Outre Theatre Company’s choice to stage 1984, adapted by Andrew White is both timely and apropos for their inaugural production in its new space at the Pompano Beach Cultural Arts Center.

The stage is simple in terms of set and props – the most eye-catching device are the numerous propaganda posters and photos of “Big Brother.” The modest set allows the actors to use their craft to bring the story to life without relying overmuch on physical things. The technical crew works swiftly and quietly in the background, making transitioning from one scene or setting to another seamless with little distraction.

Director Skye Whitcomb handles troublesome staging hurdles aptly by incorporating a giant screen projecting film to depict flashbacks, internal dialogue, sensitive scenes of sex and violence, and other elements that would be too difficult to portray given the time and space limitations of the stage. The effect is brilliant and keeps the production out of the adults-only realm. The scenes of sex and violence portrayed are tasteful and not too frightening, but the overall tension is palpable.

Frequent costume changes allow the sparse cast to multiply in size as several actors portray secondary characters.

Murphy Hayes shines as Charrington. His manner is charming and invites other characters to open up to him. He is an unassuming, comfortable person to confide in. Peter Wayne Galman brings an austerity to O’Brien in his speech but moreso in just his presence. His costume is a perfect match for his character.

Seth Trucks does an excellent job as Winston. He is unmoved by the 2 Minute’s Hate and portrays obvious distaste for the morbid practices of the party that even children enjoy. Winston’s secretive behavior and curiosity for things that Party members have denounced isolates him from the world he lives in.

When he encounters Julia (Jennipher Murphy) in a special way, suddenly things start to change for Winston. Her rebellious spirit awakens something within him. He thinks he has found a kindred soul and he professes his love to her, but he soon learns that no one is as they seem. Julia’s disregard for rules is self-serving; Murphy gets across Julia’s flippant nature and egocentricity.

With regards the other workers at the Ministry of Truth: Meredith Bartmon is also very convincing as the Party die-hard, Syme. Joey De La Rua (Parsons), Michael Conner (Ampleforth), and Daryl Patrice (Tillotson) provide some much-needed comic relief, but their ultimate fates show their range as actors.

1984 opened on July 13 and runs through July 30. The final four shows are as follows:

Thursday, July 27 @ 8pm
Friday, July 28 @ 8pm
Saturday, July 29 @ 8pm
Sunday, July 30 @ 2pm

Doors open 1 hour before showtime

All shows are at the Pompano Beach Cultural Arts Center, 50 SW 1st Ave, Pompano Beach, FL 33060.

Tickets are as follows: Adults $39 - Students and Industry $19 and can be purchased online or at the Box Office. Make sure to get them fast before they sell out!

Outre Theatre Company is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization and relies on sponsorship from private benefactors and theatregoers. Please help to support them and keep local theatre alive!
All photos (c) 2017 by Shannon Ouellette