It’s rare to find an adaption of a novel successfully transplanted to stage or screen. Those of us who love to read inevitably scrutinize the adaptation with a skeptical eye. Aston Rep’s decision to produce this adaptation
of Orwell’s prophetic novel was a good one. Director Robert Tobin stayed faithful to the script and managed to do incredibly well with little. The sparse stage with minimum props adds to the barren landscape of a dictatorship, physically and intellectually.
Tobin’s understanding of the text comes through. Each scene captures pivotal points in the story. The director does not have to work hard to draw parallels with contemporary times.
Orwell’s text serves as a reminder that we are always in danger of being indoctrinated. On the grounds of safety our lives are under the watchful eye of ‘big brother’. The government exploits the fear of its citizens to reduce them to slavish mindlessness. It’s a harrowing tale and most pertinent for our times. Just who is watching what we do? As our internet lives are trawled by numerous unknown sources, we find ourselves inundated with unwanted information. We are being groomed by larger forces at work to pacify and subdue us.
It’s time to wake up and smell the rank smell of big brother’s involvement in our lives. Orwell’s prophecy has been realized in many obvious situations such as North Korea but are we deluding ourselves by believing that it could never happen to us? Aston Rep have chosen a text designed to make us think about who is governing us. Are we prey to the ‘fake news’ of the day, believing in what is not instead of what is? ‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.’
A harrowing reminder that we must be watchful of who is watching over us. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Adapted by: Robert Owens, Wilton E. Hall Jr. and William A. Miles
From the novel by: George Orwell
Directed by: Artistic Director Robert Tobin
Cast: Alexandra Bennett* (Parsons), Lauren Demerath (Ensemble), Lorraine Freund (Landlady), Rory Jobst (Martin, Ensemble), Amy Kasper* (O’Brien), Ray Kasper* (Winston Smith), Tim Larson* (Syme), Sarah Lo (Julia) and Nora Lise Ulrey (Ensemble).
Location: The Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago
Dates: Preview: Thursday, September 14 at 8 pm
Press performance: Friday, September 15 at 8 pm
Regular run: Saturday, September 16 – Sunday, October 8, 2017
Curtain Times: Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3:30 pm
Tickets: Regular run: $20. Student/seniors $15. Tickets are currently available at www.astonrep.com or by calling (773) 828-9129.
About the Director
Robert Tobin is the Artistic Director of AstonRep Theatre Company and has been involved in some capacity with every one of AstonRep’s 19 productions. Recent directing credits with AstonRep include the Chicago Premieres of The Women of Lockerbie and The Water’s Edge, The Dumbwaiter/In The Moment, The Lover and The Erpingham Camp. In Chicago, Robert has worked as an actor, playwright and/or director with companies including Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, First Folio, Oak Park Festival Theatre and Redtwist, among many others. Regionally, he has worked with the Utah, Colorado and Montana Shakespeare Festivals, Festival 56, The MET Theatre (Los Angeles) and the Geffen Playhouse (Los Angeles), among others. As a playwright, he has had several critically acclaimed plays produced in Chicago, Los Angeles and regionally and recently won Best Literary Adaptation as part of the City Lit Theatre’s “Art of Adaptation” Festival.
About AstonRep Theatre Company:
AstonRep Theatre Company was formed in the summer of 2008. Since then, the company has produced 19 full-length productions and eight annual Writers’ Series. AstonRep Theatre Company is an ensemble of artists committed to creating exciting, intimate theatrical experiences that go beyond the front door to challenge audiences and spark discussion where the show is not the end of the experience: it is just the beginning.