George Orwell's political fable tells the story of a group of animals that have overthrown their human oppressors and begin an ‘animal farm' that is run entirely by animals. That is, until the pigs become the elite leaders and begin a propaganda campaign to ‘make animal farm great again', making the other animals question if all animals are really treated as equal. 

This production of Animal Farm is adapted by award-winning playwright and political commentator, Van Badham, who was named a ‘major talent' by The Guardian. This retelling sits closely to the books, telling the story accurately, but with an interesting modernisation of the classic. Badham's Animal Farm holds a unique balance of satirical wit and timely eeriness that both show the story's relevance in the uncertain political times of our world now. 

The staging was effective with the farm setting and the propaganda posters, and there was a screen at the back that would show news reports, protests, live stream, tweets, and audiences. While this was a unique way to modernise the play and was an effective use of added comedy, as it made the play very witty, especially with the singing, it didn't really sit right for me. I felt as though the play was made to be too modern and at times the use of Twitter and Facebook felt a bit cringe and out of place. Social media is an important tool in politics, but I didn't feel like Animal Farm needed this addition. At times they'd try to be relevant by using Twitter, for example, expecting the audience to engage and find it funny, but the audience engagement wasn't always there. 

Director, Dr Helen Eastman, has created a unique and vibrant retelling of Animal Farm, but the heart of the story and the action of the plot, fell flat. The acting from Anna Tolputt, Herb Cuanalo, Nicholas Osmond, and Emily Woodward, was great, especially playing multiple characters and changing costumes so quickly. However, the movement around the stage and across the audience felt rather chaotic at times, with the audience not sure where to look. Sadly a lot of the acting was on the screen recorded in advance instead of having the protests and action scenes on the stage. The final scene felt disappointing with the action taking place on a retelling on the screen rather than acting on the stage.


Review: Cara Scott