STAGE REVIEW: Animal Farm @ Northern Stage (04.03.16) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: l-r Katherine Pierce + Millie Harris from NORTH in Animal Farm by Topher McGrillis

George Orwell’s famous Bolshevik parody found itself treading the boards of Northern Stage as part of the theatre’s 2016 NORTH project.

Orwell’s cynicism and wit are notoriously difficult to capture on stage and Ian Wooldridge’s adaptation of Animal Farm, directed by Mark Calvert, seemed to struggle accordingly. For a cast of only five actors to attempt to carry off such an ambitious project was certainly laudable, but ultimately their efforts failed to match their aspirations and collapsed under the weight of the project.

The original story line is fairly well told and props are at times cleverly deployed to make the most of a confined stage environment, but the flow of the performance is compromised frequently by trivial, nonsensical musical interludes that do little to aid the telling of the tale.

Furthermore, the play’s hour-long running time is not deemed worthy of an interval, which left spectators fidgeting in their seats and meant the actors’ performances were hindered by fatigue as the show ambled towards its climax.

Overall, this was an interesting take on a literary classic, but not one that could live up to its billing. It was scatter-brained at parts, confusing in others and sadly it missed the craft and intelligence that Orwell’s story-telling demands.

An evening would be better spent reading Orwell’s book and enjoying it as it was intended, instead of trying to make sense of this nugatory offering.

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