The Bridge House Theatre was brought to life with the classic tale of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, adapted by Peter Hall.
In the well-established tradition of holding up for scrutiny the behaviour – noble and otherwise – of human society, behind the façade of animal actors, Orwell wrote a book with a powerful storyline and clearly delineated forces for good and evil. His accomplishment was, of course, to create a work that could simultaneously be both a compelling children’s story and a subtle and merciless dissection of the principal figures caught up in the period before and after the Russian Revolution of 1917, as its loudly proclaimed ideals came tumbling down.
Characters such as the blindly loyal Boxer, the porcine plotters, cynical old Benjamin, the donkey (reputedly, Orwell, himself), and a whole menagerie of other farmyard animals and feckless farmers were portrayed in a fresh new production, presented in the Brechtian style. Bertol Brecht, the German playwright and practitioner, reminded his audience that they were watching theatre and not real life: to make the audience think rather than feel. The design saw a monochromatic set, supported by lighting and sound (designed by Ian Roberts and operated by Lower School boys) and representational costume. The boiler suits- a symbol of hard work, perhaps entrapment and here, equality as one community- were subtly different to represent each different animal and perhaps act as a timely reminder that they are not truly equal from the start.
Directed by Jane Gurnett and Grace Taylor, Lower and Upper Fourth boys involved demonstrated true perseverance through the creative rehearsal process. The result: an energised and engaging performance as the young ensemble depicted this complex, and well-loved tale with aplomb!