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Animal Farm was performed at the Lowry end.

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As the production opens, a group of political refugees begin to tell the story. But they gradually convert themselves into an amazing range of characters, so vividly portrayed that your believe yourself to be actually in the novel. The inspired acting company uses their bodies and heavy boots to create the animals in this acutely physical production. Animal Farm was performed at the Lowry end on, a direct suggestion that we were about to be told a story. This stage form also brought up the metatheatrical question of who would be watching whom. The audience was made up of school groups, a particularly hard audience to "hook". This would prove whether or not the company could hold an audience of this age (14-18 year olds mainly). Their reception was, as expected from the age group, very vocal and active, and despite the occasional time when thing just flew over their heads they were held entranced. The tall, bomb shelter style set was already shown as we walked into the auditorium, inspiring hostile images of caged animals, and an industrial poverty. The play was based on George Orwell's highly successful and hard-hitting "fairytale"; Animal Farm. This satirical assertion of the horrors and repression of the Russian Revolution has unnervingly coincidental links to modern day societal conflicts as well as revolutional occurrences and fascist dictators' rise and fall all through the ages. ...read more.


The height of these walls created an oppressive air, as if the characters are nothing in the scheme of life. The open and obvious entrance/exit points seemed to say that there was nothing stopping the enslaved animals from running away, so raising the question; why don't they? The movable "pallets" were instrumental in showing how the whole of the animal's lives were bared for all to see, that their lives are simple and plain. The use of material possessions to build the windmill, which consequently fell is a ironic word on communism, the idea that throwing all your possessions into a group effort will leave you with nothing but disaster, that any assumed chances of freedom through communism will be ripped down around you, despite your most heartfelt effort. Brechtian gestic technique was again used to great effect in dragging the reality of the tale kicking and screaming into the audience's conscience. By placing an umbrella with and obvious brand name (Donnay) an icon recognisable to our culture, a symbol directly linked to our society's intrinsic materialism. This tells us that this story is not just a fairy tale about talking animals, but about us, and our society, and the way in which we are ruled by fashion, politics and the media: posing yet another deep sociological question, namely that of what rules what; materials, man or politics? ...read more.


message to be even more shocked when they are shown the recognisable elements, when they are told that the play is about them. Napoleons key speech catches our hearts, and hatreds, as a pastiche of Hitler's addresses to the Nazi party. The semiotics of his props, stature and proxemicaly strong centre stage position all read as a tyrannical dictator, sure of the effectiveness of his words. To strengthen the Hitler image the animals behind conduct a march and salute ironically similar to the "Nazi goosestep", with rigid arm movements and straight backs, like puppets held firmly in reign. The unison of the movements show them as all being equal, but Napoleon being exempt from the need to march is proved as much stronger, and much more important than the rest. This was a performance not to be missed, its epic proportions, echoed by the huge staging and the towering windmill constructed before your very eyes. A bitter reflection on our human "civilised" ways, emotional charged, with moments of utter and complete suspension of disbelief. The whole feat was a thoroughly enjoyable experience - whether a drama student or an Orwell virgin, a teacher or a high school drop-out the sheer perfection of symbolic representation, and a polished performance from this talented northern cast - you'd be barking mad to miss it! ...read more.

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