January 27th of this year was SPACE PIRATE RADIO's 42nd Anniversary. "Come and meet, those dancing feet. On the Avenue, I'm taking you to..." And like Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL, my Dystopian Dreamscape of late has a toe-tapping soundtrack. It's off to the Dinah Shores for Inner Circle Clubbing at the I CAN'T COPA CABANA.
"What the Huell Howser is he talking about?"
Current enthusiasms have returned to a prophetic sharing plan of fear and loafing. "That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone." Classic and not so classic sci-fi, also called social fiction. Fantastic images and predictions of a world that has become, with variations, the common place of today. Taking the People Mover, the little lady and her aged philosopher head South, following the tracks of Route and Room 101. It's off to Santa Monica for the British stage production of 1984.
And when is the last time one has seen a good interpretation of George Orwell's book on the stage? Umm...
1984 is like Hamlet, in that it is open to a multitude of interpretations and variations, reflective of the times and the interpreter. It is dark fun and fearful protection to collect them. There is a satiric connection to Spike Milligan's THE GOON SHOW versions (there are two) and Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL. Both Orwell and Milligan knew Big Brother was the BBC, of whom both were employed. And Peter Cushing won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in Television for his (ironically) BBC TV production. Michael Radford's version, meant to commemorate the year 1984, is quite marvelous on so many counts. John Hurt gives a great performance in a pantheon of great performances. Richard Burton's final film role is darkly sober. The cinematography by Roger Deakins (before being 'cleaned' and ruined on American dvd release) and soundtrack by the Eurythmics add to this unique film. And for many, Edmond O'Brian (an ironic name choice and alteration of the film character name to O'Connor) and his 1956 version is like Olivier in Hamlet, the first to make an impression.
But we are yet in another of our Sainted Cities to appreciate The Broad Stage presentation of the Headlong, Nottingham Playhouse, and Almeida Theatre Production of 1984 by George Orwell, adapted and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan. And it is a stunner!
Showing its connection to the world we live (or sleep) in today, it is faithful to the meat of the book. With a stage, image and sound design sharing a living connection to the examples mentioned before, it is classic, steampunk and razzle dazzle. As if the Royal Shakespeare Company performed Marat/Sade as Our Town with a deafened Pink Floyd The Wall and a dance-less Bob Fosse. It's a Thinking Person's Trip and a class act, even during moments that could be vintage Sam Peckinpah directing Oliver.
An opening lecture on Orwell and a post performance Q and A with the author/director and key cast members was the icing on the cake.
It was theatre only the British do best. Not DIRTY DANCING, THE MUSICAL, thank Goddess. Not even KINKY BOOTS (though if some desperate theatre impresario tried to turn Orwell's book into a Las Vegas musical, I bet the title might be BIG BRASSIERE).