BWW Review: 1984 at Outré Theatre Company

BWW Review: 1984 at Outré Theatre Company

The Outré Theatre Company presents the first production of its 2017/18 season, George Orwell's 1984, in its new home at the recently opened Pompano Beach Cultural Center. The play 1984 is based on George Orwell's dystopian novel published in 1949. In 2005 the novel was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels. Many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, cold war, and Newspeak came into common use since its first publication. It continues to have a profound impact on writers and political theorists even today.

Adapted by Andrew White, the play is set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the superstate Oceania, in a world perpetual at war. The residents are subjected to ever-present government surveillance, manipulation of the media, and the persecution of individualism and independent thinking. Such behavior is labeled as Thoughtcrime, and is a punishable act monitored and enforced by Thought Police. It is all overseen by the Party leader, Big Brother, who enjoys an intense cult persona, but who may not even exist. The Party itself is not interested in the good of others, it is interested solely in power for its own sake.

The protagonist, Winston Smith, works for the Ministry of Truth, which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. His job is to rewrite past newspaper articles, so that the historical record always supports the party line. The Ministry also destroys all documents that have not been edited and do not contain the revisions, so that no proof exists that the government is lying. While Smith is a diligent worker, he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother. He is united with a co-worker Julia by both their physical passion for one another, and their passion to rebel against the unrelentingly oppression in which they live.

This production of 1984 by Outré Theatre does not contain the graphic violence of the Broadway production recently making headlines for being intense enough to cause audience members to faint and/or vomit. But graphic violence is not always needed to convey the horror of isolationism, the neurosis of continually being watched, and the stomach-turning futility of a life filled with the denial of truth, and an utter lack of altruism, individuality or even hope. The potential perils of such a theoretical world are not so hard to grasp. An honest look at recent events reveal a US political leader who refutes and manipulates the media, and promotes "alternative facts" in place of documented truths.

"It's no surprise that Orwell's work is as timely and provocative as ever," said Skye Whitcomb, Outré's Artistic Director and the director of the production. "Every day we see something else that reminds us that fascism and dictatorship can insidiously intertwine itself into our society, and that there will even be those who welcome it. 1984 shows us a society where people have willingly given up control over every aspect of their lives in order to be 'safe'; it's quite frightening, really."

Seth Trucks is compelling as Winston, a man who nearly aches with loneliness, moving through a life to which he feels no connection. He does thankfully establish a connection with Jennifer Murphy as Julia who has a kind of vague rebellious charm. Their muted love affair is somehow sad in it's lack of real love for one another. They are but two soles reaching out for the nearest life preserver to help keep them afloat amidst a sea of misery. What brief moments of pleasure they furtively glean must carry them through the vast emptiness that is their life.

While the other actors are uniformly solid, Peter Galman turns in a stand-out performance as the austere O'Brien. He provides a weight to the character, and enough mystery behind his true intentions to supply a degree of intrigue.

This show is by nature about the message and the style of delivery rather than individual performances. The over-all bones are there. The stage is used to provide a stark and spartan feel. The costumes are appropriately functional but without personality, except for the intentionally frivolous undergarment worn by Julia. And the videos are well done and well-integrated into the production. While it achieves all it's goal, there are some pacing issues within the scenes that make the show drag however, and may leave you looking at your watch.

Certainly the production quality itself is greatly aided by Outre's access to it's new space at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center. Lighting, sound, and the use of projection screens all become paint brushes through which to paint the picture of life in Orwell's land of Oceania. The distance between the audience and the stage is a bit too far for my taste with this production, in which an intimate immersion would be more impactful. Good use is made of the sound, voice overs, projections, and videography, especially in flash-back styled story telling sequences. As the show went on, however, the silence between scenes became uncomfortably long. I wondered if this was an attempt to convey the internal silence of the characters' emotional isolation. Some sound effect, such as the sound of machinery or nature, speeches, or projection art would have helped the flow of the scenes considerably. Hopefully some minor adjustments will add the right amount of clarity to this disturbingly, thought-provoking classic.

George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic born in 1903. His work is marked by an awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and his outspoken support of democratic socialism. He is best known for his allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His noted non-fiction works include The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

Outré Theatre Company is a vibrant, growing theatre[AU1] [SMW2] company in beautiful South Florida. Outré believes that theatre[AU3] is a living art form with the power to reimagine and reexamine ourselves and the world around us. They strive to create theater which stimulates thought, provokes reflection, and encourages activism. www.outretheatrecompany.com.

This Outré Theatre Company production of George Orwell's 1984 is scheduled to appear though July 30, 2017 at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, located at 50 West Atlantic Ave. (Just East of I95). Performances of this production are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets: $39 adults, $19 students and industry Tickets available at www.ccpompano.org or by calling (954) 839-9578.

Crew:

Director: Skye Whitcomb

Sound/Lighting/Projection Design: Guy Haubrich

Set Design: Doug Wetzel

Stage Graphics: David Rey

Costume Design: Erin Charles

Stage Manager: Noel Barry

Cast:

Syme: Meredith Bartmon

Ampleforth: Michael Connor

Parsons: Joey De La Rua

Tillotson: Daryl Patrice

O'Brien: Peter W. Galman*

Charrington: Murphy Hayes

Julia: Jennifer Murphy

Winston: Seth Trucks

Stage Cast:

Mrs. Ogilvey: Stephon Duncan

Sgt. Ogilvey: Chase Gutzmore

News Anchor: Connie Pezet

Fitness Instructor: Lory Reyes

Emmanuel Goldstein: Michael Small

Winston's Sister: Adara Thagard

Winston's Mother: Cindy Thagard

Winston's Father: Dan Thagard

Young Winston: Vallen Thagard

Telescreen Voices:

Amy Mahon

Christopher Mitchell

Kat Gold

*Indicates a member of Actor's Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the US.

The Pompano Beach Cultural Center and Library is a mixed-use City of Pompano Beach facility. The 47,000 square-foot facility showcases a Cultural Center and Library under one roof. The Cultural Center features the best of regional talent in South Florida along with the finest international talent. A home to a 400-seat theater, an art gallery, and a state-of-the-art digital media center, the Cultural Center brings all disciplines together, not just under one roof but onto one stage. The resident companies of the Pompano Beach Cultural Center offer exciting individual performances, while also collaborating on special events and education programming. For more information, www.ccpompano.org.

The resident companies of the Pompano Beach Cultural Center are members of The Cultural Alliance, which in addition to the Outré Theatre Company, consist of:

Brazilian Voices: Brazilian Voices is a women's vocal ensemble that p Brazilian Voices: Brazilian Voices is a women's vocal ensemble that performs at cultural community and philanthropic events. Brazilian Voices aspires to incorporate the best of Brazilian culture throughout the world. The group evolved out of a vocal technique workshop organized by Beatriz Malnic and Loren Oliveira in 2001. Since then, these two musical directors have brought together a cast of devoted women, who volunteer their voices and time promoting and preserving the rich multicultural Brazilian heritage fostering multicultural exchange, music appreciation, and education. www.brazilianvoices.org

Curtain Call Playhouse: Curtain Call Playhouse is proud to be the most active "touring" theater locally in South Florida for the past 20 years, working with over 3,500 artists, and more than 3,000 children in the arts. Appealing to both adult and family audiences, their mission is to bring the excitement of live theater to local communities with the goal of entertaining the seasoned theater-goer as well as inspiring a whole new generation of audiences. www.curtaincallplayhouse.com

Dance NOW! Miami: Julliard graduate, Hannah Baumgarten founded Dance NOW! Miami with Diego Salterini, and through Dance NOW! has toured the US from New York to Arizona, Central America and conducted residencies in and South America. Hannah Directed the Magnet High School Dance Program at Dillard Center for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale for 10 years and currently serves as adjunct faculty at the Academy of Arts & Minds High School. www.dancenowmiami.org

Florida Classical Ballet: The mission of the Florida Classical Ballet (FBC) is to promote and preserve the tradition of Classical Ballet by offering audiences a repertoire of exciting programming designed to enrich and inspire the community and its culture. FCB company is comprised of highly talented and disciplined local, national and International Artists and focuses on excellence through the fusion of Cuban technique and American style. www.floridaclassicalballet.org

Fushu Daiko: Since 1990, Fushu Daiko has been training in the art of Taiko, a musical art form that builds on a 2600+ year-old tradition of Japanese drumming. Their music combines the traditional drums and rhythms of Japan with musical styles from around the world, such as jazz and R&B, to create an exciting, powerful cross-cultural experience that strives to cross boundaries and connect cultures. www.fushudaiko.org

Herman LeVern Jones' TheatreSouth: TheatreSouth AtlANTA, Inc. was founded in 2007 as a Georgia Non-Profit in Atlanta, GA. The company's founder Mr. Herman LeVern Jones, MFA (a 44-year theatre veteran) started this organization to expose the local metro community to healthy classical theatre arts. Mr. Jones, a seasoned community activist, understands the power of theatre arts and how the arts develop lifelong presentational skills for individuals from all industries, statuses, and backgrounds. After cultivating the city of Atlanta with a variety of projects, TheatreSouth AtlANTA, Inc. permanently moved to the Miami area in 2013 and now does business as TheatreSouth. http://www.theatresouth.net/

Rootz of Music: Florida-based Rootz of Music, Inc. was founded in 2011 by Jazz guitarist, arranger, composer, and music educator Eugene Grey along with his wife Felicia K. Grey. Rootz of Music is committed to inspiring people and assisting in their growth and appreciation of music. One of the goals of the organization is to preserve the history of Jamaica's popular music through a series of presentations of its innovative program "American Roots of Jamaican Music: The Legacy." www.rootzofmusic.net

Florida Chamber Ensemble: The Florida Chamber Ensemble (SFCE), was formed in 2011 as a combination of the Art Trio and the New York Wind Trio and is comprised of six musicians from the brass, woodwind, string and percussion families. The two ensembles, who shared some of the same members, decided to join forces in order to diversify and pool resources. Their members perform throughout South Florida in orchestras like the Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, South Florida Philharmonic and Boca Raton Philharmonia. www.sfcemusic.com

South Florida Jubilee Chorus: South Florida Jubilee is proud to be affiliated with Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide organization of women singers focused on advancing the art of barbershop singing - four-part harmony through performance, competitions, and education. South Florida Jubilee Singers enrich their lives through the enjoyment of singing a broad variety of songs from Broadway tunes, classical music, mainstream music, and gospel. These songs are arranged specifically for the rich barbershop harmonies that are identified with this art form. www.southfloridajubilee.org .

Photo Credit: Kay Renz


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From This Author John Lariviere

John Lariviere John Lariviere currently headlining throughout South Florida at local theatres and clubs. In August of 2016, John performed for the second year at the Florida (read more...)

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