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“You may well find pleasurable pain in the discombobulating stage adaptation…But it will be pain of a different order (possibly involving nausea) from the empathetic kind you experience reading Orwell’s ever-engrossing book…There is an ordering intelligence behind this ostensible muddle...The show’s self-sabotaging ambiguity is meant to make us question every version of reality that’s on offer...That nebulousness is the play’s most ingenious aspect, and also its most irritating.” Full Review
"Familiarity tends to work against this honorable but undeniably glum and mostly suspense-less production...The production, while hardly literal-minded...nevertheless feels like a homework assignment from a civics class, replete with a virtual list of study suggestions...In a grim irony, this all makes for the kind of evening that doesn’t so much stimulate thought as shut it down, since the meanings have been so carefully parsed and served up for us." 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
“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
“An assault on the senses…And then there is the assault on the soul, with the show depicting the bludgeoning of democracy and plain humanity. It is all hard to take, but then there is no other way to do justice to George Orwell’s landmark novel…The storytelling could baffle those unfamiliar with the book, and a quick refresh before going to the play is helpful…The show doesn’t convincingly bring to life this constant invasion of privacy, but gains traction as soon as the affair is exposed.” 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
“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
"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
“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
"Certainly an intense and disorienting experience, with a fine cast...Fans of the horror movie genre might find more to appreciate here than theatergoers who have come expecting some special intellectual, emotional or contemporary political illumination...The disorientation that is threaded throughout the production is too often indistinguishable from confusion...It’s almost as if '1984' the play is reflecting the values of the society it depicts–sensation over clarity, screens over thought." Full Review
"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
"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
“Icke and Macmillan compress Orwell's book into 101 briskly paced minutes…Their script and staging…choose to embody the material expressionistically; theatrical devices…tend to dehumanize the characters and situations. This interferes with our ability to empathize with Winston's dilemma, which increasingly seems more metaphorical than real…Reed Birney steals the play with his accustomed nice guy, rational demeanor as he carries out his horrendous duties in the name of the party.” Full Review
"A multimedia extravaganza...Broadly faithful to the novel, with Orwell’s moral left wholly intact...The continuing applicability of this moral makes it regrettable that '1984' isn’t more theatrically potent than it turns out to be. Some scenes do have tremendous punch...It helps that sound design and lighting are so fine, and two of the performances are equally noteworthy...'1984' would hit home harder were it set not in a sort-of-nowish not-quite-London but in, say, Pyongyang." Full Review
“While I can imagine this visceral production being chillingly effective in an intimate venue, I found it distancing and unsatisfying in a Broadway house. It's also a massive, bludgeoning downer. The impressive stagecraft constantly overpowers the human element of the drama — the cast's committed performances notwithstanding…There's a heavy-handedness to the storytelling that makes it just as often numbing as unsettling. Which is not to say the adaptation lacks skill or inventiveness." Full Review
“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
"Like being stuck inside an obnoxious video game. Everything is incoherence, violent for the sake of brutality and an assault on all five senses. Despite all the interesting visual gimmicks, this show traps you for well over two hours...As for the acting, Mr. Sturridge, who has been a long-time favorite of mine, is just miscast. Ms. Wilde gives an interesting Broadway debut and Mr. Birney is very creepy." Full Review
“For all its moving set pieces, along with a busy, ear-blasting soundscape, frequent blackouts, blinding lights and live video, it’s strangely unmoving and low-impact. The action meanders and jumps in time, so some familiarity with the story is a must. On the plus side, authors and directors Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan deserve credit for letting Orwell’s cautionary story speak for itself…All three leads carve out capable but not especially memorable characterizations.” 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
“My main reaction is disappointment…Sturridge and Birney are riveting…There's also no denying that the stagecraft is impressive. Unfortunately, the stagecraft is so overpowering that it diminishes the human elements that would truly stir us emotionally and rouse our sense of outrage…It's all too over-the-top to feel real and thus respond to emotionally…Overcooked as the stagecraft is, it does make for an often dynamic, punchy 101 minutes.” 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
“Without question, the director-adapters have done their darndest to make the work startlingly theatrical—an area in which they succeed. But for all its gore, sound and fury, most of Sean Spicer’s press conferences are more likely to give you nightmares...In part, the trouble with the play goes back to the source...Orwell’s novel is strong on ideas and short on narrative...The first third of the play is pointedly disorienting and extremely confusing (even if you’ve read the novel recently.)" Full Review
“An assault on the senses, pointedly designed to run over an audience like a tank crushing resistors in its path…To some degree, the strobe lights, gunshots and gore become such a distraction from the story that they threaten to overwhelm its dire message about government run amok…Sturridge and Wilde are very good...I don’t routinely suggest it’s essential for theatergoers to know source material before seeing its adaptations. Here, though, it’s a good idea.” Full Review
"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 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
See it if you want to see an inventive, grim staging of Orwell's dystopian novel; you want to see the origins of "fake news" & "alternative facts".
Don't see it if you're unprepared for an assault on your senses in a brutal, loud, bloody, in-your-face production, played more for shock value than empathy
See it if You enjoy the novel. Enjoy shows that makes you think. The relevance of this play is profound. Incredible acting by Tom Sturridge.
Don't see it if Torture scenes are too much for you to handle. The sight of blood makes you sick. Don't enjoy shows that make you think
See it if Are someone that is familiar with the book etc and want to see a version of it unwind or spin out of control at times.
Don't see it if Are uncomfortable with lots of flashing lights and booms mid production and are bothered by gore. Not a great production. Good acting.
See it if You really like the book and you don't mind sitting through a confusing adaptation. The staging is intriguing.
Don't see it if If you expect a faithful adaptation of the book. This play takes lots of liberties and you might find yourself confused and bored.
See it if More of an interpretation of 1984, then a straight up adaptation. Updated for the present moment. Reed Birney is excellent.
Don't see it if Looking for a comfortable/fun show. Sfx is jarring.
See it if ...you want to see Orwellian society live onstage. See it. It is socially relevent in our current political climate.
Don't see it if ...you are easily offended by violence, blood, or torture. There are some intense scenes, though most are tastefully staged.
See it if Politically relevant. Rational people succumb to believing "alternate facts" and become a society of "pods." Repeated lies becomes truth.
Don't see it if Cannot tolerate simulated torture used as a brainwashing mechanism to gain total control of a society to erase its past. Stays with you.
See it if want to see a very edgy piece that is very relevant to today. This show is extremely powerful and leaves you thinking about it for weeks.
Don't see it if you are bad with blood or anything graphic. This show has many disturbing moments.
See it if you are looking for an intense experience; you can separate yourself from what you see; you like good story/acting especially from Sturridge
Don't see it if you're squeamish/cannot tolerate mental/physical violence. The play is worth seeing, but it is very unnerving and difficult to watch.
See it if you know the story and know you can handle it. It starts slow, but ends STRONG. Great acting all around. A terrifying look at society.
Don't see it if you can't handle violence. Lots of people get up and left. It's intense, but your imagination is worse than what they actually show
See it if you can eat with a very slow first half to get to the better-written and more interesting second.
Don't see it if you're only going for the violence. It's intense (and loud), but not as graphic as the publicity makes it seem.
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.
See it if you want to see a stage version of the classic novel and how it is created on stage, especially the torture scenes.
Don't see it if you don't like stage versions of novels that are hard to translate onto stage, are confusing and lose the point of the novel.
See it if You want to experience a play that is thrilling, relevant & intense. Tom Sturridge is fearless. Olivia Wilde is captivating. Cast is superb.
Don't see it if You're not up to graphic violence, loud sounds & intense light visuals. This story is physically upsetting. This play eerily reflects today.
See it if You are a fan of the novel, or dystopian stories. It is thought-provoking for sure. Also, see it if you want to be uncomfortable.
Don't see it if You are bothered by violence, blood, or are looking for a light night out. It is VERY intense.
See it if you want to see a powerful story with themes that are particularly resonant in today's culture.
Don't see it if you want to be entertained; this is not a fun show - it's hard to follow in some points and hard to watch in others.
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
See it if A fresh take on a classic. Relevant to our time. Good performances. Riveting,
Don't see it if Disjointed. Hard to follow at times. Hard to watch. The strobes were unnecessary and painful. The torture was very graphic.