We take a look at what critics have had to say about Pure Expression’s immersive production of George Orwell’s 1984.

Time Out: “The actors are solid, and Akuwudike does a heroic job as O’Brien, both fulfilling his role in the book and handling the lion’s share of the audience interaction. But it’s all too glancing. You would never adapt ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ into a play this brief if it was a conventional staging. The fact it’s immersive – ie we take a short exam and shuttle between a couple of rooms – doesn’t magically compensate for that.”

The Arts Desk: **** “An immersive show stands or falls on its attention to detail and its pace more than any other elements of theatre’s alchemical recipe for success. Few productions can boast so thrillingly authentic a world-building as this one, from its terrifyingly plausible assessment forms (engraved pencils provided) to its beautifully realised security videos, enhanced by Thor Aswarm’s suitably intrusive sound design that demands mentioning in dispatches when the award season rolls round.”

Theatre & Tonic: ***** “This immersive production utilises the space of the court and courtyard extremely well to tell Orwell’s story. The austere setting of the court to examine ‘evidence’, the use of the projector screen to showcase undercover surveillance and recordings and the cameras focused on the audience was brilliant. They used the mundane items we take for granted in our lives and terrifyingly showcased them to bring this dystopian state into reality. “

Evening Standard: ** “But as with so many so-called “immersive” shows this offers us the illusion of agency while treating us as sheep-like stooges. It’s not inventive and disconcerting, like Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s adaptation for Headlong in 2016: rather, it cosily ticks off the major plot points of a story most people sort-of know, while the setting and the staging add a veneer of novelty. It sends us home with a warm glow of having thought about totalitarianism a bit for 75 minutes, with a Negroni inside us. Amazing building, though.”

The Stage: ** “Immersive adaptation of Orwell offers only glimmers of potential.”

Islington Tribune: “Jem Wall and Richard Hahlo’s immersive production creates a palpable sense of menace but little sympathy for the two rebels.”

Broadway World: *** “The cast is small but well-honed. Akuwudike is an exciting watch as the fanatical O’Brien, driving a stodgy script forward apparently through sheer force of will. Reeve gives a nuanced and intelligent performance as the young rebel and is one to watch while, opposite her, Rogers ensures that Winston has the required emotional depth but – partly due to the underwritten nature of all three characters – doesn’t draw us in enough to really care how many volts O’Brien ultimately runs through him.”

West End Evenings: **** ““1984” is an immersive experience that delivers a powerful, intense interpretation of Orwell’s dystopian world, albeit with some notable omissions from the original plot. It is not for the faint of heart, focusing on mental and emotional terror rather than graphic violence, providing a chilling perspective on the enduring relevance of Orwell’s cautionary tale.”

The Reviews Hub: ** “An experience like this really needs more creativity and originality to drive the message and story home. As it stands, there is a lot of being herded from room to room with very little need. The sets aren’t extravagant or different enough to warrant the movement, and the flow would work a bit better if it was either based in one location or if each location differed enough to give the ‘wow’ moment guests were expecting. Additionally, it would maybe work better with a smaller, more intimate group – there are so many people that it feels more like an ‘ungood’ boring school trip, rather than a fun, exciting, immersive experience.”

Theatre Weekly: “This might not be a comprehensive retelling of George Orwell’s 1984, but it is clever in the way it slips moments from the book surreptitiously into the performance. More importantly it’s rather good fun, and certainly creates a dystopian feeling amongst us new recruits.”

London Theatre1: ** “ The actors showed the necessary, charisma or idealism that we understood who they were in the Orwellian narrative, but there was very little to write home about in this play.”

WhatsOnStage: ** “At 75 minutes (including herding time), it is all over and done with in a flash. Adam Taub’s adaption, directed by Jem Wall and Richard Hahlo, literally skims the surface of the classic work. The three central performances are all strong enough, but ultimately are thinly drawn and lacking in theatrical guts.”

Hackney Citizen: “Pure Expression’s immersive staging of the famous novel is a thoroughly engaging rendition of the scenes and concepts that have woven themselves into our cultural fabric – Big Brother, doublespeak, room 101.”

To book tickets visit: https://immersive1984.com/


%d bloggers like this: