60 years after the book was first published I finally understand the cultural references of Big Brother and Room 101. For me Big Brother has always been an Endemol production and Room 101 a Frank Skinner TV show. Now I finally get it! Yes it was the time for Culture Night and this time we were actually being truly cultural and watching 1984 at The Playhouse.
After a quick drink we were shown to our seats. I was most excited to be sitting next to Lindsay Duncan who is a bit of an old fave of mine – from her GBH days (and more recently About Time) so that was an exciting start. And then the play began.
There is no interval – they warn you at the beginning – it’s a good thing. If you had a break it would halt the momentum. It needs to keep moving. It is relentless. There is strobe lighting, big time strobe lighting. There is no epileptic warning. There should be. The narrative techniques employed are amazing. Although the staging initially seems simple – it is effective. There is a ‘back room’ off set where Walter Smith and his true love spend time. It is accessible to the audience via a small cam projected onto a massive onset screen. It is uncomfortable viewing and by participating you feel quite the voyeur. When this real set gets deconstructed later in the play you (the audience) almost feel responsible…
It is a brilliant production. Amazing. Intense. Raw. Stressful. High octane. Manic. Exhausting. Really bloody full on. I was absolutely shattered when it finished. I totally recommend it.
For our other Culture Night experiences read: