Charrington in Blind Summit's 1984 at BAC. Photograph by Stephen Dobbie
Another was our first encounter with Charrington in his junk shop. The elderly shop owner was a magnificently operated puppet, with soft body and an angular, oversized cardboard head. A third was a condensed version of an illicit text by the elusive Goldstein. It was played out behind a bed sheet, the ideas explained frantically with various cardboard props. 1984 is not purely made of card though and relies mainly on human rather than puppet performance. It’s performed by a seven person strong cast and, intentionally no doubt, the main protagonists are very rarely alone on stage.
The play is pretty funny at points, especially in the first half, but it’s comedy edged with a chill. Stripped down, the costumes and set are minimal but the characters are caricatures, loud and exaggerated. Despite the simple set, it’s a busy and noisy production and at points confusing. The actors’ movements are well choreographed but their lines are delivered with a ferocity that feels like you’re being shouted at. We wondered whether it was necessary to bellow stage directions at the audience.
1984 is a dense, heavy going novel and translating it to the stage is a challenge. We liked this play but weren’t totally satisfied by it. Though fans of the card, we weren’t completely convinced by the people inhabiting the cardboard world or the decision to make the story comic. It is worth seeing though, especially as it’s an excuse to spend an evening at lovely BAC.
Blind Summit's 1984 runs at the Battersea Arts Centre from 2nd - 23rd December and 4th - 9th January at 7.30pm. £10-16. Read the Blind Summit blog for the inside story.
Review: 1984 By Blind Summit @ BAC
Last Updated 10 December 2009