When I hear about adaptations in the theatre world, I usually envision seeing them in a West End theatre. This has been my only exposure to them in the past. This made me quite excited to see how the Golden Goose Theatre, a pub theatre in Camberwell, was going to put on George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
At first, I noticed that there were no animal costumes being used by the cast, this makes a lot of sense given that the original material is a book where the animals’ looks weren’t necessarily important. The animal aspect was portrayed by sounds and mannerisms. At times to signify the difference between animals, pillows would be used, like when John Fargan, who played quite a few animals, pinched small pillows to form to create the hens. The pillows remained on set, and it worked quite well.
The creation and use of the set was impressive. Metal bunk beds were set up in the beginning. At the start of the show, Tony Wadham, as Old Major, prophesized on top of one of the beds. These bunk beds were then taken apart and used for several other set elements throughout the show, like a rifle and a windmill. It all was very smooth, and the cast were graceful in the way they moved themselves and the set elements around the stage.
They also gracefully transitioned between characters. I was very impressed that with only a four-man cast that I was never confused about what character they were playing. Especially since there were no costume changes other than putting on a hat at times. The only actor playing one role was Kevin Martin Murphy, as Napoleon the pig. This does make sense considering Napoleon’s large role in the story. And his performance as Napoleon was incredible, I felt a bad feeling about the character from the beginning. So much so, that even if I was unfamiliar with the original text, I think I would be able to tell that pig was up to no good.
And this play could really stand on its own. Yes, if you are unfamiliar with the book, you will miss out on some themes and minor character’s that are either mentioned only or not at all in the play, but you will still understand the major themes and what is going on. I was very impressed with Animal Farm. It really brought George Orwell’s masterpiece to life and deepened my appreciation for an ever-relevant fable.
Review by Elisabeth Beer
Perhaps the greatest allegorical work of our time. The fable touches on themes of oppression, greed, equality and the nature of power. After a 5 month long tour, the company of Animal Farm are proud to present one final week in London.
The fable concerns a group of farm animals who overthrow their exploitative human masters and set up an egalitarian society of their own, and the doomed cyclical nature of power.
Cast & Creative
Kevin Martin Murphy
Director: Gaspard Legendre
Original Text: George Orwell
Adapted by: Paul Stebbings
Produced by Grantly Marshall.
A TNT/ADGE/Theatre Du Heron production
Musical Score: John Kenny and Christian Auer
Set Design: Philippe Ragot
Set Construction: Jorg Besser
Costumes: Susanne Wussuwa