Riding the tube is never boring. You always have interesting characters to inadvertently stare at (and later feel the need to call the police on), people on their cell phones telling you all their plans, or the London Evening paper given out for free to anyone who steps foot on the train. It’s a large newspaper full of the days events and random news.
If I ever forget a book or can’t concentrate, I’ll pick up a discarded copy and flip through it. Only sometimes are there interesting enough articles for me to spend the time to read it, but more often than not, it’s a mere time-waster.
A few weeks ago, I was casually flipping through the pages when I saw an advertisement for a new play version of 1984. The clever marketing team got me because I found the image intriguing and then saw the first 101 tickets sold for any particular night would cost £19.84. You can’t beat that for a play, so I convinced Jeff to see this with me, and the plan was made.
Now, I had made this plan before I became employed, or else I would have not volunteered for a Thursday night, but nonetheless, Jeff and I made plans to meet in central London near The Playhouse Theater right on the water.
You couldn’t have missed the building as it was decked out with posters for the play. I was pretty excited since it was the first play we were to see since Strangers on a Train, and also it boasted only 101 minutes of non-stop action. I was pretty tired from the week and was having a tough time imagining a three-hour affair.
Every doorway we entered, a volunteer stood and spouted off their warning that there was no intermission and if we were to leave the theater, there was no re-admittance. By the fourth person, we could have recited the speech ourselves and then we made our way to our seats way, way…way up.
No wonder the tickets were so cheap.
Just a few more minutes passed and the play began. The stage space was split in two with the stage and sets taking up the floor and screens taking up the ceiling flashing images and projections. The play opened with Winston sitting at a desk and a book before him. He flipped to an empty page and began writing, but the lamp that spotlighted the book must have also had a camera because what he was writing and his hand movements were shown up on the screens.
The actors were amazing and believable to the story. In my high school English class, half of the class read 1984 while the other half read Brave New World. I was one of the latter, so I was unfamiliar with the story’s intricacies, but felt as though the retelling was very thorough and complete.
A portion of the play was shown strictly on the screens. Jeff and I were left wondering if that portion was pre-recorded (and if so, we consider it cheating) or if they were acting on the same web-cam-like devices they had used before but behind the set.
The constant question of “where do you think you are?” really resonated throughout the auditorium and made you think, where do you think you are, and who knows about it?
Big Brother is everywhere and certainly all over London. I know it doesn’t help that I had posted to Facebook shortly before the curtains came up where we were and what we were doing. We perpetuate the loss of privacy with social network, but on the flip side, there are also cases such as CCTV or Closed-Circuit Television. In London, there are signs of “CCTV is in Operation” everywhere: on the tube, in the pubs, library, streets, etc. You are always being watched.
So, seeing this play in London knowing there are cameras capturing our every movement was surreal with the repeated question of “where do you think you are?”
I thought I was in The Playhouse Theater enjoying an adaptation to George Orwell’s novel, but I was also on a video screen and my whereabouts were strewn over the internet void of social network.
When the play ended, Jeff and I were both floored. It really was 101 minutes of non-stop, intense story-telling that kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next and why.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it highly to anyone. The next play we are to see is on July 5th, Richard III followed by Skylight with Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy in late July.
Big Brother is watching…where do you think you are? “Thank you.”