A literary classic reimagined

1.9.8.4. offers unique local take on Orwell’s dystopian novel

Tito Martin-Nemtin

Having produced more than 20 plays at Craigdarroch Castle, Metro Theatre and McPherson Playhouse, Ian Case knows a thing or two about what makes good theatre.

He also has a knack for finding the horror in everything.

It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that Case’s production of George Orwell’s 1984 zeroes in on the physical horrors of Big Brother’s absolute grip on power.

“(The story) is a very stark reminder of humanity’s ability to be inhuman to humanity,” Case said.

Written by David Elendune, 1.9.8.4. – read as “one, nine, eight, four” to evoke less connection to the year – uses the backdrop of a futuristic dystopia called Victory City.

Case said the audience will notice “gentle implications” of familiar Victoria sights sprinkled throughout the play – think cherry blossoms in Spring – as the torrid love affair develops between Winston (Eric Holmgren) and Julia (Ariel Slack).

“Every adaptation I’ve ever seen has this sort of post-industrial era grunge to it, as if they were trying to set the action of the story in Orwell’s time, rather than actually looking at it as if it were Orwell’s future,” Case said.

The adaptation is Elendune’s first, although the career writer has six plays (including Good Night, Uncle Joe) and a novel under his belt.

He chose 1984 for its iconic value as “that teenage novel that sits on the wall along with Pink Floyd and hangs over us for the rest of our lives.” That, and there weren’t any copyright restrictions.

“It’s a bit like covering a song, and there’s no point doing a strict cover, you have to put your own slant on it,” Elendune said.

The slant includes the themes of love and hope between the two protagonists in the face of nihilism.

“The real key question is, can you stop people from loving one another? That’s the real core of the story,” he said.

1.9.8.4. runs until Dec. 2 at the Intrepid Theatre Club, 2-1609 Blanshard St.

Tickets are $20 for general admission and $16 for students and seniors.

A pay-what-you-can evening takes place Nov. 28, with partial proceeds supporting Langham Court Theatre.

Find tickets at ticketrocket.org or call 250-590-6291.

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