Captivating – that is just one way to describe the Duchess’s Community High School’s production of George Orwell’s 1984 at Alnwick Playhouse last week.
Outstanding, mesmerising and down right fantastic are more.
I’m always a bit apprehensive of reviewing amateur productions of books that I’ve read, which I know will be difficult for the cast to perform.
But there was absolutely no need, once again, to be concerned about how the DCHS pupils would portray George Orwell’s classic.
1984 is possible the most definitive dystopian novel, set in a world beyond imagination where totalitarianism really is total and all power is split into three roughly equal groups - Eastasia, Eurasia and Oceania, where 1984 is set.
Winston Smith, played by Matthew Potts, works for the Ministry of Truth, and like everyone in Oceania his life is under 24-hour surveillance, his thoughts are monitored brainwashed and controlled by Big Brother and the thought police.
But when, a young woman, Julia, played by Megan Brown, arrives at the desk next to him, and he starts to have ‘unpure’ thoughts he is led on a journey of power corruption. As Smith and Julia turn to the black market to get married and live together they seek support from O’Brien, played by Sophia Murray, to overthrow the system – without success.
Matthew is incredible as Winston Smith. The scenes in which he is tortured were dark and deep, but portrayed with such professionalism.
Megan’s role as Julia was also superb, and working with Matthew their relationship was completely brought to life.
For me Daisy Hope was one of the stand-out performers, her role as the old landlady was simply fantastic.
Courtney Swain must be congratulated for her sheer determination as the loud speaker. She sat perfectly still, somewhat menacingly, before the show started, throughout the interval and at the end, as well as completely mesmerising the audience in her role.
And those thought police were something else.
The haunting white masks and their almost robotic movements added another level of darkness to the production.
It never fails to amaze me how talented these young people can be. The confidence, ability and sheer determination to produce such a clean, sharp and mesmerising show is truly commendable.
1984 is dark, deep and challenging and deep – but that didn’t stand in their way.
Their performance made me want to go home and read the book all over again.
Of course none of it would be possible without the work of those behind the scenes as well. From the grey set to the non-descript uniforms, drumming, music and more the production was a whole package of brilliance.
All those involved, on and off stage, should be immensely proud of yet another superbly brilliant, captivating and professional DCHS production