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Review: ANIMAL FARM by shake & stir theatre co

Now on stage at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

Every knows the tale of Animal Farm, a tale of animals overthrowing their drunk farmer to create a new life of equality and freedom, only for the tyranny of the farmer to be replaced by the control of the pigs, leaving the other animals back where they started. Since I first read it in high school, it has remained one of my favourite novels. I couldn't tell you the amount of times I've re-read it and pondered about humanity; who we are and the vicious cycles that we create that are seemingly never-ending.

When shake & stir first did this production, and won a heap of awards for it, I was so devastated that I didn't get a ticket. I read every review I could find and imagined what the production would have been like, sitting in the audience. Eight years later, I'm finally in the audience and boy, was it worth the wait.

Review: ANIMAL FARM by shake & stir theatre co

Directed by Michael Futcher, a cast of five actors - Darcy Brown, Tim Dashwood, Nelle Lee, Gideon Mzembe, Steven Rooke - embodied all the animals and farmers from the Orwellian world. There are no animal costumes; each cast member whereas a white singlet and black jeans however we are suspended of disbelief that these actors are the Orwellian characters we've grown up with through their physical mastery. We watch slaw-jacked as each performer transformed each limb in their body to embody divergent animal personas, often accompanied by a hat, or ears if that. Gideon Mzembe's attention to detail in his portrayal of Boxer was mesmerising from his head toss, to the arching of his back to his soft nicker as was Nelle Lee's Clover. It truly was physical theatre at its best.

Nick Skubij's adaption stays true to the novel but allows room to play with the physicality of the animals as well as more nuances of the characters that were maybe less prominent in the book. The work flickered with references to Trump with fake news, hidden policies and the brainwashing of the working class. At times I got glimpses Australia's current government and all of the things that could and are happening behind closed doors...

Review: ANIMAL FARM by shake & stir theatre co

shake & stir's Animal Farm is an intellectual feast and the cleverest adaption of a book that I've seen. A frighteningly relevant looking glass of our contemporary political landscape.

Rating: 5 Stars


From This Author - Virag Dombay

Virag Dombay is an award-winning actor, director, playright and theatric critic who has been engrossed in the theatric world from a young age. She has been involved in a variety of children’s... (read more about this author)

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