Review by Casey Curtis

Big Brother is watching you. And I was watching Big Brother. Big Brother is not a character that appears on the stage.  Big Brother is onstage. In the character’s minds, in their conversation, and in their thoughts.

Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

There are moments in the play 1984 where you will be fascinated — in horrified awe of the brilliance of George Orwell’s prescient vision of the future. The future is the present. The present is the past.  There are moments where you will be frustrated, because the show takes on an absurdist tone from time to time and repeated dialogue and scenes seem to be like a needle skipping on a record.

Repetition is singularity. Confusion is clarity.

But overall, to not see 1984 is thoughtcrime.  So important is the philosophy.  So relevant is the message.  So important is an awareness of the way we are manipulated with language and that those in power control that language and how we view … everything.  Think it is only for today? Think it is only because of our current President? Orwell says this is the way it has always been and always will be.   “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”

Will this be another show that you see, have deep thoughts, and don’t change a damn thing in your life? Is this another show you will see, say, “that’s so true,” and then not write a single letter to your legislators, not protest, not march? Probably. That’s okay. War is peace.

But maybe. – Maybe you will have the most profound experience imaginable.  And maybe it will change the way you think and maybe that is the start of a revolution.  A revolution that can only exist in your mind. “Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.”

1984 is not perfect theater. It will be difficult for some to digest. Difficult for some to watch. There are depictions of torture and maiming. You might be better off just reading the book. But if you can, see it. It will be life changing. It will change nothing. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

Or skip it. Ignorance is strength.


1984 – Based on the novel by George Orwell, adapted and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan

Cast: Reed Birney, Olivia Wilde,Tom Sturridge, Wayne Duvall, Carl Hendrick Louis, Nick Mills, Michael Potts and Cara Seymour

Hudson Theatre, 145 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200 – Runtime 1 hr. and 41 min.