20 January 2022
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In 1937 George Orwell witnessed a boy whipping a horse. This was a catalyst for his novel Animal Farm. Published in 1945, it remains a potent political satire.

A story about the days and months following an animal revolt on a run-of-the-mill English farm, Orwell’s book is an allegory for the Stalinist Soviet Union where the ideals of Communism were crushed by factionalism, power-mongering and a propaganda machine in overdrive.

Severe, harsh and fascist: this is the reality of the overworked and underfed animals of Mr Jones’ Manor Farm. And so the animals rebel, ousting Farmer Jones, establishing Animalism and changing the name to Animal Farm. Still, no creature comforts are afforded the animals.

Except for the pigs – the new power brokers – nothing changes.

Contemporary farce

This new production adheres closely to Orwell’s text while simultaneously brimming with contemporary references, including Trumpisms (“Make Animal Farm Great”), tweets, Fox-influenced “Fux News” and a poet pig as a Sia lookalike.

In contrast to the playfulness and farce in Van Badham’s script, Fiona Bruce’s stark set of scaffolding and black corrugated tin suggests a more sinister world. Together with Karen Cook’s chilly lighting design the set is effectively unnerving. Crowd control barriers suggest political rallies or, more disturbingly, the corralling of animals for slaughter.

The only…

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Abdul Gh Lone