Ask Audrey Ask Audrey
Review

Animal Farm

"compact, quick-moving"

Audrey review: A solidly entertaining take on Orwell's classic novel, replete with a sense of serious purpose, flashes of humour and a generous satirical bite.

Text size
Text size
Category: Theatre
Company: New Theatre
Book Now
Add to favourites

Animal Farm

Date: 15 Oct 2020

As long as cats grow fat on bonus schemes, and politicians press their snouts into the trough, and leaders trade on fear, George Orwell’s Animal Farm will never go out of date.

In adaptor-director Saro Lusty-Cavallari’s staging, the rebellious pigs, sheep, cats, dogs, horses, hens and humans of Manor Farm are played by an ensemble of 15 actors without recourse to masks, beaks, tails and hooves.

The barn is sketched in cross-section in Carmody Nicol’s set design, also serving as a blackboard for the writing of the seven commandments of Animalism (“No animal shall wear clothes”, “All animals are equal”, etc) that will be amended in time as the porky elite press for more and more privilege.

Lusty-Cavallari’s compact, quick-moving script (punctuated by animated title cards) is contemporary in tone, helping to leads us away from Animal Farm as a fable on the unfolding of the Soviet revolution and towards it being a satire on modern day politics Australian-style – addicted to glib messaging (Manor Farm is “Open for Business”) and characterised by backroom bullying and policy backslides.

The ingrained sexism of politics is made apparent, too. In this world, as in ours, it’s the women (Laura Djanegara’s tireless Boxer; Imogen French’s bereft cow Clover) who do the heavy legwork and emotional labour while the men bluster, complain and then take the credit.

The acting performances enjoyable and it’s clear that everyone has thought hard about what they’re being asked to do and/or represent. Increased confidence as the show beds in will help the drama jump the lip of the stage more regularly. On this night, Brendan Miles, who opens the show with Old Major’s deathbed speech (he also plays the drunkard farmer Jones), Angus Evans (Napoleon) and Zoe Crawford (Squealer, played as an unctuous political spinner) stood out.

For young audiences contemplating the study of this HSC perennial, New Theatre’s Animal Farm will be an asset, a gift box of talking points in class. For the rest of us, it’s a solidly entertaining evening replete with a sense of serious purpose, flashes of humour and generous satirical bite.

Content
A Room of One’s Own
Add to favourites
ArchivedBelvoir, Surry Hills, Sydney 10 Sep - 18 Oct 2020

A Room of One’s Own

After the interiority of the past several months, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own feels like a good first outing, writes Cassie Tongue.

Superheroes
Add to favourites
TheatreSeymour Centre, Chippendale, Sydney 25 Sep - 31 Oct 2020

Superheroes

Mark Rogers' play offers a portrait of instinct and trauma, privilege and power, and how these things intersect and interact, writes Cassie Tongue.

Wonnangatta
Add to favourites
TheatreRoslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay, Sydney 21 Sep - 31 Oct 2020

Wonnangatta

This premiere production of Angus Cerini’s knotty murder story overcomes the Covid buzz-kill by the skin of its not inconsiderable teeth.

See More

More to see

View All
From Our House to Yours
Add to favourites
StreamingStreaming 1 Apr - 31 Dec 2020

From Our House to Yours

The Sydney Opera House makes its contribution to the plethora of online content being made available by the world’s major performing arts venues.

Hotel Bella Luna
Add to favourites
TheatreFlight Path Theatre, Marrickville, Sydney 22 Oct - 7 Nov 2020

Hotel Bella Luna

An interactive sci-fi comedy where the audience play the newly arrived guests of a troubled lunar hotel.

Next to Normal
Add to favourites
MusicalNIDA Parade Theatres, Kensington, Sydney 27 Oct - 2 Nov 2020

Next to Normal

This landmark musical won three Tony Awards for its unflinching portrayal of an ordinary family trying to deal with the effects of mental illness.

Rules for Living
Add to favourites
TheatreDrama Theatre, Sydney Opera House 2 Nov - 19 Dec 2020

Rules for Living

Timed for the silly season, Sam Holcroft's Rules For Living is the most dysfunctional Christmas lunch you’ll ever attend.

Top