#Tweetingit – review in 140 characters – 3* A brutal modernised version of a classic set on a working farm which packs the punches
Despite its age, the themes of Animal farm still resonate with us. Orwell took his inspiration from the Soviet Union but he could easily have done the same now using the recent London riots or the events unfolding in Syria. Playwright James Kenworth and Director James Martin Charlton have therefore taken this opportunity to create an updated and very accessible promenade production based on this famous book and have come out with Revolution Farm.
The audience are led around a section of Newham Farm to see the action unfold. It starts in the barn, where we see the animals beginning their plot to overthrow “the scum.” I thought that, being a production which was both performed and seemed to be aimed at the younger viewer, that some of the more brutal elements of Orwell’s classic would be removed. My expectation was quickly reversed when the audience were removed from the barn and could only hear fighting, screaming and deaths. This is not the only brutal scene; we see a “rat”, one of the smaller members of the cast, being torn apart by his peers for food and another, having his neck broken after confessing to “crimes”
The story has been updated to make it more accessible to a young, modern, London audience. Not forced to use words unnatural to them, the young amateur cast use their natural vernacular to put their points across. However, some of Orwell’s most famous lines are still there- just updated a little; ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ becomes ‘four legs badass, two legs wasteman.’ Sometimes when children are in productions, their words seem unnatural but this really worked.
The cast are made up of 5 professionals and a group of young amateur actors. The professionals do a good job of holding the action together. .Kevin Kinson makes a strong but sensitive Warrior(Boxer in the novel) while Lil’ Monster played by Katie Arnstein is touching and heartfelt.
No, it doesn’t always flow perfectly and some of the performances could be improved a little – the younger members occasionally not speaking loud enough or getting distracted – but overall the show has been well executed. It is an interesting and well thought out social project, introducing young people to the ever relevant themes of Orwell’s popular book.
This is definitely something for a younger audience and recommended for anyone who wants to see a modernised version of a classic
Director: James Kenworth
Playwright: James Martin Charlton
Runs until 24 August