New York | 1h 41m | Already closed

1984 (Broadway)

From 54 critic and 623 member reviews
Members say: Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Edgy, Ambitious

About the show

This stage adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel stars Tony winner Reed Birney, Tony nominee Tom Sturridge, and Olivia Wilde in her Broadway debut. Ages 13 and up only. More…

One of the most widely referenced and best known fiction titles of all time, '1984' was first published in 1949. Set in a dystopian future when critical thought is suppressed under a totalitarian regime, the story centers around everyman Winston Smith (Sturridge) as he begins down a path of personal and political rebellion. Playwrights Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan's adaptation of '1984' arrives in New York with a brand-new cast after four popular U.K. runs. Due to the show's graphic nature, no one under 13 will be admitted. 

1h 41m | Already closed | Hudson Theatre (Midtown W)

The Huffington Post

“Astonishing, riveting, and almost literally shocking…Sturridge carries the play…He is well matched by Wilde…Birney gives yet another commanding performance as the grand inquisitor…The world of this ‘1984’ is one which you’re not likely to forget, especially when the action turns wrenching. And this is not, mind you, a production for the sensitive or squeamish…No question, though, that this is a remarkable and unforgettable jolt of high-voltage theatre.” Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

“The members of the cast of ‘1984’ deliver soul-splitting performances that appear to defy the limitations of their craft. They deftly maintain the fragile suspension of disbelief while escorting the audience through a cavern of metacognition and catharsis…The compression of time heightens the urgency of Orwell’s warning and exacerbates the need for action...‘1984’ continues to and enduring questions.” Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"Both Sturridge and Birney give remarkable performances defining the individual against the state. Olivia Wilde excels...The staging has the chilling effect that it is meant to have, and the torture scenes can send shivers down one’s spine...This theatrical version touches the right bases and, with the combination of fine acting all around and the vigorous use of staging technique, it becomes a memorable, terrifying experience that is both emotional and food for thought in today’s world." Full Review


“A nerve-jangling adaptation…Using a horror movie vocabulary, the virtuosic production makes the dark implications of out-of-control state power feel urgent and real…Anchoring the play is the romance between Winston and Julia, a rambunctiously vivid Olivia Wilde…The production still ends on a chilling note, one that’s both in keeping with the world Orwell creates while resolutely refusing to send the audience home with an adrenaline rush of hope.” Full Review

More Than The Play Blog

“Powerful in its structure and use of technology to engage the senses, stimulate the intellect, and evoke emotion. Alarming it its multiple levels of truth and relevance. Brilliant in its scope of vision and precise interpretation…Sturridge and Wilde have a strong connection and chemistry…The encounter and subsequent journey of these characters is gripping, surprising, and unnerving…This production makes us question. George Orwell would be proud. I want to see it again!” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"This production is like an ice pick aimed at one's nervous system...The authors ingeniously use lighting, sound, and video effects to create the world as seen through the eyes of Winston Smith...Sturridge is a fine Winston...The casting coup of the production is Reed Birney, as O'Brien...It's our bad luck that this production suddenly seems so relevant, but there's an element of good fortune in the skill–and ferocious moral authority–with which it is delivered." Full Review


“A frequently harrowing adaptation…The show memorably reinvents one of the most terrifying tales of modern times…It lets Orwell speak for himself, though in a distilled version that must make blatantly visual what the novel takes pains to incite in the consciousness…Sturridge has a jittery, piercing appeal…Wilde has a contained abandon that emphasizes Julia’s revolutionary urges without caricature. Birney proves once again to be a master of emotional concealment that works to expose.” Full Review

Cultural Weekly

"The idea is to makes us as unsettled and unsure as Winston as he faces the monolithic power of Big Brother. That impact is fully revealed in the final section of a harrowing, intermissionless 100 minutes in one of the most realistic depictions of torture I’ve ever seen presented on any stage...The future-historian device which reappears at the end somewhat lessens the shattering impact, but this production remains devastatingly memorable." Full Review

Daily Beast

"Stark, intense, and visually stunning...This un-society is marked, extremely effectively, by characters moving by suspicious rote and by the standout scenic design, lighting and sound effects of the production...What this adaptation does, and which no other adaptation has done until now, is take Orwell’s appendix of the original novel to pose a series of teasing questions about Smith to create an even more haunting denouement than Orwell’s original." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"One of the most fascinating items on the Broadway scene...It stands as a powerful and frighteningly relevant, if somewhat fantastical, take on our world...O’Brien, Julia, and Winston could not be in better hands. Reed Birney, Olivia Wilde, and Tom Sturridge play the three central roles impeccably...A multi-cultural epic that uses all its elements to great effect. This piece is hardly 'entertainment,' but it is engrossing, exciting, and interesting at all times. It is pure theatre all the way." Full Review


“Tough to take — but worth the cost of losing your lunch…It’s the unnerving sound-and-light show that really gets under your skin and burrows, wormlike, into your brain…Winston comes alive, although Sturridge is so wound up he never really surrenders to sex and love…Orwell’s suggestion that Big Brother doesn’t actually exist — that he is, in fact, all of us — really knocks us out.” Full Review

Time Out New York

“Intense in a way I’ve never seen on Broadway: It’s gut-churning…This gripping show rewards watching, though…As technology becomes more pervasive and ideology more rigid, it is hard not to drawing associations between Orwell’s horror story and the way we live now. But be warned: ‘1984’ is spikier than you might remember from reading it in high school...What makes this antipropaganda broadside so lastingly compelling is how successfully it resists decaying into propaganda itself.” Full Review

Village Voice

"A skin-crawling, superbly designed adaptation...Violence and fact intermingle to sinister effect. Unlike the naturalistic movie, the visual palette of this hundred-minute distillation is a bookish but canny synthesis of horror movies and European Regietheatrics...Video and disruptive light and sound transitions keep us as disoriented and doubtful of reality as Smith." Full Review


"A harrowing stage adaptation...This is not an easy play for us to watch. Icke and Macmillan, who also co-directed, employ disorienting effects: light and sound disruptions mess with our heads, the story seems to jump back and forth in non-linear fashion, and the torture sequence at the end is brutally graphic...There is a very unsettling quality to the performances, and deliberately so...In 2017, '1984' resonates louder than ever." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

“Icke and Macmillan’s production is structurally and visually daring. The audience is assaulted with piercing sound, blazing light and graphic violence. With live video and projections evoking Big Brother’s spying, the surveillance-themed design chills…The production presents a gripping untrustworthy, unstable environment. Though the discombobulation is intentional, sometimes the direction leaves us struggling to decode incidents in the play.” Full Review

Reflections in the Light

“The story is riveting, not so much for Orwell's plot itself, but because it generates the unpleasant realization for us that this story is not far from reality…Icke and Macmillan make good use of large screens for video projections, so in a way, the audience gets to be Big Brother. In addition sound effects that have people jumping out of their seats and precision lighting combine to create the ability for well-executed time jumps.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"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...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. But overall, to not see '1984' is thoughtcrime. So important is the philosophy. So relevant is the message." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“A few elements of this adaptation and production seem ill considered…If resetting the story in an ill-defined, non-specific place was done with a view towards making the tale more universal, it actually has the opposite effect in undercutting one of the novel's greatest strengths…But ultimately the day is won by the power of Orwell's words and the high quality of the acting—and, of course, by the story's eerie relevance to current events...An extraordinary production.” Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

“‘1984’ doesn’t have the same foreboding effect audiences might expect from a book that’s continually felt eerily prescient for decades. Still, the acting is phenomenal and the wildly innovative production makes for a memorable show…A play doesn’t allow for quite the amount of world-building that can be accomplished in a book, so the full extent of Big Brother’s rule isn’t quite as rich as it is in Orwell’s original work. But the creative team has found new ways to bring the story to life.” Full Review

Metro (US)

"'1984' speaks to our fears of an overreaching government and the elimination of independent thought, then dares to ask what we’re going to do about it...With bright flashing lights and intensely graphic scenes, disturbing inferences and general foreboding, it’s an intense 100 minutes without so much as an intermission for relief...The more confused you feel in the beginning, the more you’re truly entering the world of the play. Let it happen." Full Review


“While it occasionally feels more like a film than a play and suffers from some strange narrative choices, it still captures the essence of Orwell's message in thrillingly theatrical ways...Icke and MacMillan unveil the exposition in short, often confusing scenes. The inclusion of a book club as a framing device adds to our disorientation. Entire sections are presented via video projected on the set...Despite all of these questionable choices, the resulting play is undeniably riveting." Full Review


"The new Broadway version of Orwell's '1984' demonstrates that the story is still relevant to our time even after 68 years, when the line between truth and lies is being blurred every day. However, by attempting to update the story and moving it into the future with a great deal of modern technology, the production dilutes the power of the original feeling of resignation and claustrophobia." Full Review

AM New York

“A streamlined, multimedia-enhanced, unapologetically intense production…Olivia Wilde, making an assured Broadway debut…Orwell’s narrative is followed, but the stage version has a nonlinear and unpredictable flow…This visceral and unpredictable staging is more exciting and effective than this summer’s other politically-oriented productions.” Full Review


"The production is intense and disturbing...The play is ominous, unsettling — and then comes the antiseptic room 101, a chamber of horrors where victims' worst fears come to pass. What happens there is chilling and graphic. It is worse than a horror movie, because it seems both so real and so possible." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"This 100-minute ordeal will hold you in its steely grip from the moment you enter the auditorium...Icke’s skilled design team succeeds brilliantly in creating this terrifying world...But this design team does its job too successfully...Ultimately, we see Winston trapped in the most horrific, graphic torture scene I’ve ever seen onstage...You’ll leave shaken, deeply disturbed–and wondering how these prescient collaborators could have foreseen its painful relevance to what’s happening today." Full Review

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Great staging, Epic

See it if You want to be genuinely thrilled in a theatre. Your heart will pound as the darkness of humanity is laid bare & bloody.

Don't see it if You like traditional Broadway, feel-good plays with happy endings or dislike extreme violence.

Great staging, Great acting, Masterful, Intense, Relevant

See it if you can handle blood and liked the book

Don't see it if you hate blood and strobing lights

Absorbing, Edgy

See it if like spooky theatre

Don't see it if you don't like flashing lights and blood

Intense, Relevant, Profound, Must see, Intelligent

See it if See if you like relevant plays that are thought provoking

Don't see it if Dont See if you like shows that are way to intense

Absorbing, Ambitious, Excruciating, Intense, Riveting

See it if you like INTENSE shows

Don't see it if Blood makes you upset

Must see, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if Want to watch something interesting that is so relevant to our lives nowadays..

Don't see it if You do not like loud music or flashing lights..

Absorbing, Great acting, Clever, Engrossing, Phenominal

See it if If you like Great Theatre! No words to describe the feelings it brings out in you. The best show I've seen in years! The acting superb!

Don't see it if If you only like musicals or comedies. This show is for adults who want more to think about.

Great acting, Relevant, Intense

See it if You want to be amazed by a story written over 70 years ago and is coming true today.

Don't see it if You can't handle reality.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Intense, Masterful

See it if you enjoyed the book and aren't afraid of powerful, immersive theatre.

Don't see it if you're put off by intensity of performance and technical elements (jarring lights, sounds)

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Epic, Intense

See it if you love edgy, experimental, immersive theatre experiences.

Don't see it if you are sensitive to gore/torture sequences. Must have a strong stomach.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Must see

See it if If you want to see amazing, thought provoking, and engaging theater.

Don't see it if Just see it

Absorbing, Dizzying, Great acting, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You want something thought provoking, interesting, and intense.

Don't see it if You can't handle torture scenes/loud noises/flashing lights. Or if you haven't read the book and won't be able to follow the plot.

Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you would like to see a show that makes you think.

Don't see it if If you get stressful when you see edgy shows. The show is quite intense

Absorbing, Intelligent, Masterful, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if You enjoy thinking and do not mind being challenged.

Don't see it if You like”feel good” plays and musicals.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Profound

See it if you like intense and intelligent plays

Don't see it if you can't stand non-musicals.

Also Big Brother is a classic story. This is the deepest interpretation I'v... Read more Read less

Brilliant, Too real!, Dizzying

See it if you're a fan of the book, or you are a little overwhelmed by today's history.

Don't see it if you only want to see fun shows about rainbows and unicorns.

Also From the time you sit down to the noisy droning of machines to the tim... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Intense

See it if want to see one of the most brilliant plays running right now. Incredibly thought-provoking. It is a technical theatre masterpiece.

Don't see it if cannot watch blood or torture. It's a very hard show to watch. I recommend skipping if you can't stomach it.

Great acting, Great staging, Intense, Riveting, Relevant

See it if You remember the book but not clearly. I was on the edge of my seat, and the sense of dread and horror in the theater was palpable.

Don't see it if You want a fun night at a musical, or a comedy. It's intense, in a good way.

Great staging, Intelligent, Must see, Resonant, Riveting

See it if This production is a must-see given our nation's political climate. It offers an perspective that is both astonishing and truthful. Run!

Don't see it if If you get squeeze. This production doesn't shy away from the truth.

Edgy, Intense, Masterful, Must see, Relevant

See it if You enjoy intense, relevant pieces of theatre.

Don't see it if You have a weak stomach. Some scenes were very difficult to sit through.

Also In my honest opinion, 1984 was exquisite. Everything from the set, to ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Edgy, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy dramas with complicated plots; shows about the future; classic literature; political commentary.

Don't see it if Like simple plots; are averse to loud noises, flashing strobe lights, and graphic deductions of torture.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if You want to be challenged

Don't see it if You're looking for something light-hearted. Or musical

Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Relevant

See it if you can stomach looking into a mirror held up to the horrors we live amidst - those we participate in and those we chose to be ignorant of.

Don't see it if you can't handle realistic violence and (loud) sensory manipulation. In Grand Guignol fashion, 1984 makes Martin McDonagh's work seem tame.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Must see, Thought-provoking

See it if You love theatre that pushes boundaries and challenges the audiences minds.

Don't see it if You hate artsy theatre. Honestly I don't understand the negative reviews on this one. It was a bit overwhelming but in the best way possib

Great acting, Masterful, Intense, Brilliant, Relevant

See it if you are familiar with & understand the source material (book, film) because this is a condensation and may be confusing; are not squeamish

Don't see it if you don't know Orwell at all; want an easy, breezy, entertainment at the theater; you are faint-hearted; can't abide graphic torture scenes

Also This play is NOT for everyone. I cannot stress that enough. Children u... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (16)