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Big Brother proves worthwhile bother at Richmond Theatre
Robert Icke knew he had taken on a big challenge in adapting George Orwell’s 1984 for theatre but says it has all been worthwhile.
The new adaptation, which opens at Richmond Theatre later this month, has been created with working partner Duncan MacMillan.
And Icke says he hopes he has managed to produce something to draw kids away from their games consoles, like he experienced when his father took him to see Richard III.
He says: “When I saw Kenneth Branagh up on stage in Richard III as a 15-year-old kid I was mesmerised. Of course I had been to the theatre before but that was the first time – it was dangerous and captivating and just so inspiring for me.
“Especially when you consider my dad had to prise me away from my PlayStation and I know that is just as much the case with today’s audiences.
“The 500 or so people in the crowd, they could be at home watching the Sopranos or whatever so we have to show them exactly why they should be coming to the theatre.”
And for Icke, he admits Orwell’s dystopian modern classic was a hard task to transfer to the stage but remains convinced it was a challenge worth taking up.
He says: “Working with Duncan has been fantastic from the very start.
“It became clear while we were writing it that we had the same ideas and there were no disagreements at all – we have both been pulling in the same direction.
“But with 1984, we thought it would be a nightmare in terms of deciding what bits we can cram into a 90-minute play.
“But actually when you sit down and start writing it, it kind of just falls naturally into place.”
The overall theatre experience is something which Icke considers to be his most important priority when it comes to directing productions.
Despite acknowledging how good the cosmetics of the sets have been, he describes the play and acting itself as the contents of a jar of honey.
He says: “The set, the lighting, everything else – that is the label on our honey jar.
“But what happens on the stage, grabbing the audience’s attention, that is our honey and that is what we want the audience to be tasting, so to speak.”
Currently on a nationwide tour, 1984 rolls into Richmond on October 22 for a five-night stay.
1984; Richmond Theatre, the Green, Richmond; October 22 to October 26; for more information and to book tickets visit atgtickets.com/Richmond.
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