Ends Oct 08

1984 (Broadway)

Members say: Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Ambitious, Absorbing
31 reviews
227 reviews

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.

... Read 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. 

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Cast & Creatives (16)

Reviews (258)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The New York Times

“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

Broadway News

"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


“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


“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


“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

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

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

New York Theater

"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

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

The Wall Street Journal

"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

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 Hollywood Reporter

“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

New York Daily News

“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


“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


“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


"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

Act Three - The Reviews

“The technology and video employed was magnificent. The direction was crisp, artistic, and suspenseful— after all you're supposed to be kept off-balance the entire time. The acting, too, had strong moments for each of the three stars…However the story laid bare on a stage had the tendency to be entirely too shocking…My assessment with this play is that it is entirely too graphic and gritty.” Full Review

The Washington Post

“The effort to freak out the audience is taken to such extremes in the grim production that this ‘1984’ manages nothing so successfully as upstaging Orwell…If you were looking to this Broadway treatment to illuminate further the unsettling absurdity of government running roughshod over common sense, you will be disappointed. Because the reductive inclinations of the adapter-directors here are more in the gothic horror vein than in the service of disruptive political narrative.” Full Review


"Winston too often comes off as a clueless twerp. Sturridge generates little chemistry opposite Wilde, making it impossible for us to invest in the love story...The result is that significant stretches of this ‘1984’ are plainly boring...Still, the show is something to see, if only to witness the assault-your-senses final section...The novel is a squirm-inducing horror story, and even if this production operates in fits and starts, it understands that horror and finally does it justice." 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

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

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

Reviews Off Broadway

“A wonderful show for literalists and torture porn aficionados. This ‘1984’ manages to lose some great ideas in a projection-heavy play that hews too closely to the book for its own good. Great performances by Reed Birney and Tom Sturridge cannot save the show, and Olivia Wilde doesn't get a chance to.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Graphic, Overwhelming

See it if you want something politically relevant that offers a refreshing, edgy take on a classic book.

Don't see it if you're easily frightened by incredibly realistic violence and gore. This is NOT your high school's summer reading assignment's "1984".

Also I was less bothered by the violence and more bothered by how loud it w... Read more Read less

Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you enjoy intense thrillers with great use of sound and special effects.

Don't see it if you don't like loud noises or violence. There is an abundance of both.

Also Probably the most physically uncomfortable I've ever been on Broadway,... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Dizzying, Profound, Indulgent, Slow

See it if you want an interesting interpretation of this classic. Tom Sturridge is excellent. First half is rather slow but it definitely picks up.

Don't see it if Strobes, violence, torture and blood disturb you.

Ambitious, Intense, Quirky, Slow, Uneven

See it if You think you'd like an extended, intense, well-acted torture sequence. That made the show worth seeing, for me at least.

Don't see it if You'd rather not sit through a somewhat plodding, vague, enervating first hour to get to the moving, harrowing last segment.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you want to see an interesting interpretation of the novel. The play is intense and scarily relevant today

Don't see it if you cannot handle violent graphic scenes and you prefer linear plots. Be warned that there are loud sounds throughout the play

Absorbing, Dizzying, Great acting, Intense, Confusing

See it if are ready for intensity. Its somewhat of an assault to your senses - overall very uncomfortable yet compelling. hard to follow

Don't see it if you dont like loud noise, flashing lights, torture scenes. Also quite confusing as not linear

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great singing

See it if You want to see a big Broadway production of this famous literary work, and you are not very squeamish or easily bored

Don't see it if You want to bring children with you - due to depicted torture it is not appropriate for kids (there were some in the audience); or get bored

Also with long dry monologues. The look of the play is very distinctive and... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if You love thought provoking plays based on novels that were meant to have us question things we know and the government we live under

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with violence on stage, prefer light-hearted stories

Absorbing, Clever, Intense

See it if You loved the book

Don't see it if you hate violence and gore.

Great acting, Intense, Relevant

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, Great acting, Must see, Entertaining, Great staging

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

Don't see it if Just see it

Thought-provoking, Good acting, Creative staging, Difficult to watch

See it if You enjoy the edgy type shows and dystopian literature. Better if you are familiar with the novel. If you enjoy struggling with deep issues.

Don't see it if Loud noises and strobe lights bother you or you cannot watch torture--we left after the big torture scene and I had to cover my eyes.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Confusing, Excruciating

See it if You really know the novel - as others have said, this isn't just about the concepts, it follows the plot with no explanation

Don't see it if Blood, descriptions of torture, and strobe effects bother you. Or if you have a small bladder, the show drags on to almost two hours

Also The torture scene was ridiculously tedious and felt like a huge reach ... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intense, Confusing, Loud, Exhausting

See it if If you like an unconventional take on a classic. If you like shows with lots of techno bells and whistles.

Don't see it if You don't like loud noises, flashing lights, and fairly gross violence.

Ambitious, Clever, Disappointing, Great staging, Literally painful

See it if you liked the book and want to see an interesting albeit confusing adaptation

Don't see it if you get headaches or migraines easily. Like for real, there's a strobe light and fog machine warning, but it doesn't prepare you for it.

Clever, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you want to see something different

Don't see it if you get grossed out easily.

During previews
Ambitious, Dizzying, Edgy, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you enjoy political commentary that relates to contemporary themes. Well performed, great base material.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy the above, in addition there are warnings as you enter about flashing lights, strobes and violent scenes you may avoid.

During previews
Ambitious, Intense, Resonant, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if Grueling, violent & often confusing dramatization of Orwell's dystopian classic Timely message of autocratic government & manufactured facts

Don't see it if Production seems to prefer medium over message Graphic imagery & violence evokes a Netflix rather than stage drama Birney survives intact

During previews
Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Excruciating, Slow

See it if You really like the story or anyone involved and you are fine with loud noises and lots of Gore.

Don't see it if You hate loud noises and lots of blood. Not for the Faint of heart. Personally wanted to vomit at one point. 6 PEOPLE WALKED OUT at least

During previews
Ambitious, Dizzying, Edgy

See it if you are terrified with the world today, you want to see top notch acting, and you like the novel

Don't see it if You cannot stand violence, torture, and blood.

During previews
Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you want to see an intense production of Big Brother.

Don't see it if you can't handle seeing believably portrayed torture scenes.

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Intense

See it if you like avant guard stories with intense lighting design. Very bright lights and noise.

Don't see it if you don't like extreme noise and lighting effects.

During previews
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Confusing, Entertaining

See it if You are familiar with the novel, and want to think about the parallels to life today. Want to feel smart & discuss w/friends. Just enjoy

Don't see it if You expect a linear story, clear plot, happiness, fulfillment. Dislike explicit sex,,torture, physical&psychological abuse of all ages.

Also Yes, but George Orwell's novel is not easily translated by a stage pro... Read more Read less

During previews
Edgy, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if you're interested in a creative/experimental stage adaption of the book. Terrific acting, absorbing sound effects and lighting.

Don't see it if some of the early scenes are slow & tedious, but once it gets to the Room 101 scenes the intensity is insurmountable. Loud, graphic, bright

During previews
Interesting – confusiung – interesting –ambitious– interesting –great staging– interesting –intense– interesting –thoughht provoking– interesting!!!

See it if you read George Orwell’s novel as a part of your high school English class or simply if you are open to new theatrical experience.

Don't see it if if these CRAZY political times WE are CURRENTLY experiencing aren’t concerning to you.

Also George Orwell’s classic book “1984,” about a dystopian future where cr... Read more Read less