Animal Farm opened last night to a sold out audience and is a stylish adaptation of the classic novel by George Orwell. With its unique wit and contrasting themes, the text is one of my favourite classics, so I had high hopes for the production. I was curious to see how a story driven by speaking animals may be brought to the human stage in a way that maintained its severity and seriousness.

I was surprised that the experience was not so complicated and rather direct in its delivery. Dramatic oration of the tale with some interesting characterizations made the production feel rather earthy and tasteful. It was delivered like a Homeric recitation in that the sole performer (Dale March) stood before us and told the story as a narrator. The speech was lyrical and rhythmic in a way that isn’t commonly seen anymore. March’s presence was menacing and twisted in a strangely enthralling way and the narrative voice suited well with the tone of the novel.

 The design and atmospherics were simplistic also, with a score that aided in the building of tension and lighting that moved the story from place to place. The set design was curios, with the stage lighting up in strange and often confusingly meaningless patterns and shapes throughout the performance. This left a little to be desired.

 Overall it was a memorably atmospheric and direct production. I am impressed by how much tone was created with so little. With Orwell’s words as a driving force, this production brought feeling to my stomach and was unlike anything I’ve seen in quite some time.

 On May 1 – 3

Director and adaptor: Geordie Brookman

Featuring: Dale March

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The Sydney Comedy Festival is Sydney’s biggest annual comedy event. Every April and May, hundreds of the world’s funniest comedians take to stages across Sydney to entertain an audience of more than 120,000 people, followed by a 50+ stop Showcase Tour across Australia that performs to over 25,000 annually.