The entire theatre goes pitch black. There is a flash of light and then one man (Winston Smith) is sitting at a table looking confused. Then, complete darkness again. When the lights suddenly return accompanied by a loud distorted noise, five more people are on stage. The crowd is already disorientated. Winston is too. He asks repeated throughout the performance, “Where am I?”
Smith continually tries to escape the constant surveillance by Big Brother with Julia. They go to a very small bedroom that they believe is safe. The audience can’t see the bedroom directly but instead they see what is happening via a live camera feed into the room. This feed is projected on a large screen above the stage. As they discuss their fears, it feels like spying on a private conversation.
In an extremely intense scene, Winston is being interrogated in an all-white room. The Party Leader holds up four fingers and asks him how many fingers he is holding up. Winston replies “4”. The Leader then says that the Party says he is holding up five fingers. Then, he asks Winston again. Winston replies “4” and is instantly shocked by an electric current. After a few rounds of answering 4 followed by increasing violent shocks, he says “4 or 5 or 4 or 5 or I don’t know.” The Party Leader smiles. He has won. The entire scene is expertly acted and incredibly real. It’s reminiscent of the torture scene in A Clockwork Orange and just as extreme.
All in all, it’s a whirlwind of action and a thrilling mystery which may take multiple viewings to solve. Leave the kids at home and catch 1984 now through February 6th at the Broad Stage.