Northern Stage, Animal Farm

Review in Issue 9-2 | Summer 1997

I was constantly distracted throughout the show by the thought of what fun it must be to perform in it. Flying mud, dramatic music, a bath full of muddy water. The sadness for me, however, was that I had already seen Guy Masterson's one man rendition of Animal Farm, which was so good, so full of poignant meaning, that my expectations were perhaps unfairly high. The choreography lacked originality and the actors were, in the main, unconvincing.

Time and again one sees physical theatre which seems to pause mid-flow and suddenly go into 'image' mode, or 'text' mode, or 'acting' mode and never the twain shall meet. I could actually see the actors working out the moves in their heads.

The saddest thing of all about this piece was just how unmoving it was. It lacked the soul that I am sure Alan Lyddiard and his actors were aiming for. The sense of ensemble was weak and overall the piece climaxed too soon. However, the music was effective and some images were atmospheric, such as all the cast holding suitcases in the rain at the end, or the Spanish singer at the microphone – a reminder of the fact that Orwell was a veteran of the Spanish Civil War I presume.

The design and staging were superb but the action was dull. Northern Stages's reputation precedes them and I hope that their next production will live up to it. All the ingredients are there – it's just the recipe isn't quite right yet.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 1997

This article in the magazine

Issue 9-2
p. 22