‘1984’ Review and Reflection

Senior+Levi+Meerovich+portrays+O%27Brien+in+the+LBT+production+of+1984+as+he+prepares+to+torture+Winston+Smith+%28portrayed+by+senior+Liam+Finn%29+with+rats.

photo by Jake Gold

Senior Levi Meerovich portrays O'Brien in the LBT production of 1984 as he prepares to torture Winston Smith (portrayed by senior Liam Finn) with rats.

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Overpowered, extremely all-knowing government. Corrupted, militaristic police force. Brainwashing. Overwhelming poverty. Strict social and economic hierarchy.

These phrases probably evoked ideas of recent dystopian novels—The Hunger Games, Matched, Divergent; however, the themes have been relevant for 65 years in George Orwell’s 1984. A novel before its time, 1984 tells the story of the rise and demise of a small-scale rebellion in a large-scale anti-utopian world. Through the efforts of theater director R.L. Mirabal and the Lake Braddock Theatre department, 1984 was brought to life in the Little Theater from Nov. 20 through Nov. 23.

The student-run production did not stray far from the novel’s general plotline: An omnipotent government exists in the post-apocalyptic country of Oceania. Winston Smith (senior Liam Finn) attempts to break free of the bonds placed by Oceania’s socialist regime through small civil resistance. Along with his partner-in-crime, Julia (senior Marissa Chaffee), Winston is caught by an “inner-party member,” O’Brien (senior Levi Meerovich), and brought to a prison. Here, the duo is tortured and brainwashed.

Both Finn and Chaffee gave all-star performances. Their on-stage chemistry was easily apparent, and they both portrayed well the complicated relationship between Winston and Julia. Finn displayed his exceptional talent for theater throughout the production. He especially shone in the scenes in the Ministry of Love and Room 101; his pain seemed absolutely real. Meerovich played a terrific villain, delivering multiple powerful monologues.

But Mirabal showed that his aptitude for selecting actors was just barely surpassed by his talent in selecting crew. The lighting (directed by Kyle Dannahey) was exceptional; it was clearly a meticulously-planned endeavour, creating an appropriate atmosphere of despair and dystopia. The set design (directed by Max Grove) followed suit.

The show’s real strengths laid with its prop and sound design, however. The props (directed by Diana Sudak) were a spectacle; special mention goes to the live rats used in a torture scene. The sound (directed by Helen Moreau) was also remarkable. The “Voice of the Party” was voiced live, a technical feat.

Because 1984 is the Lake Braddock Theatre’s show presented to the Cappies (a team of student theatre critics), Mirabal and the rest of the department put an exceptional effort into the production, and it shows. 1984 is a masterpiece and one of the best shows, in terms of both acting and technical savvy, to be presented at the Little Theatre for many years.