Sunday, 29 May 2022

REVIEW: Animal Farm at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley

George Orwell’s novels seem to have this incredible ability to always stay relevant. Animal farm, for instance, Orwell’s satirical novel about power, class and greed continues to stay current despite being published back in 1945. Telling the story of a group of animals who decide to stage a revolution and claim the farm for themselves from the farmer, with the dream of freedom and equality for all animals. 

The subject material could be seen as heavy, almost too much for a younger audience. Particularly the theme of nazism, the vilification of an enemy and the propaganda that follows. 

What’s interesting here is the show, partnered with ‘Children’s Theatre Partnership’, would almost have you expect it to be a childish take on the themes. Yet the show does expertly well in catering to an audience of all ages with the ability to be educational to the youth and still portray the themes and messages that covey within the book.

Director and adapter Robert Icke of course no stranger to Orwell’s material. A successful run alongside Duncan MacMillan with 1984 previously. Now Icke’s created another masterpiece, the saying lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice seems justified with Icke’s back to back success in bringing Orwell’s novels to life. Combined with Bunny Christie’s simplistic yet fantastic set design, the show gives a dark and grim feel.  

The stars of this show are the animals, and more importantly, the puppeteers. The show itself has a plethora of famous voices from the likes of Robert Glenister, Juliet Stevenson and many more voicing the animals, yet the puppeteers do a remarkable job in both bringing the animals to life and characterising them whilst they speak and interact. As for what’s seen as the main characters, the pigs. The symbolism of greed used via the pigs and their brainwashing of other animals and constant denial when confronted with issues is clever. 

With all that’s happening right now in this country with our politicians surrounding party gate, watching a group of leaders dodging questions and changing rules, seems humorous yet harrowing. It’s almost like laughing at ourselves, but another nod to the relevance of Orwell that in today's society this novel seems as relevant as ever. 

It’s a ferocious and un-nerving 90-minute story that hits you with a message that has long passed Orwell’s Time and will pass our time. 

Review by George Butler

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Stalls K35 | Price of Ticket: £35.00
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