In an interview, Rupert Goold boldly stated that “every show should change theatre.”
And as the current artistic director for Headlong that's just what he's doing together with Nottingham Playhouse in this production of 1984.
When it opened at the Almeida Theatre, the critics raved about the brilliant use of the combination of light, sound, and video design to illustrate the flow of time between past, present, and future. At the Playhouse Theatre, this wonderful transfer has maintained this storytelling trick making this adaptation of 1984 hauntingly vivid.
Michael Billington, The Guardian: It is no mean feat to offer a new perspective on a familiar work. That, however, is what Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, as joint creators of this new version of George Orwell's famous novel, have ingeniously done.
Charles Spencer, The Telegraph: Running at an hour and a half without an interval, this is a production of sharp ingenuity and jolting dramatic clout. It nags away in the memory like a toothache or a troubled dream.
David Benedict, Variety: Although there can scarcely have been a time when the warnings of “1984” didn’t feel urgent, Edward Snowden’s revelations about present-day governmental monitoring of private behavior have turned George Orwell’s dystopia into near documentary. Director and writer Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s startling stage treatment of the material was conceived pre-Snowden and, to its immense credit, its success isn’t due to its immediate relevance. The inventiveness of the production’s approach and stagecraft make for a vivid adaptation as accomplished as it is audacious.
Victoria Sadler, Huffington Post: In this post-Snowden age, where privacy it seems is all but dead, a reinterpretation of Orwell's Big Brother and the omnipresent surveillance state certainly has a lot to offer. But this production at the Almeida is over-engineered, with high concept overwhelming the text, creating an inconsistent, uneven show.
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: This harrowing new adaptation by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan is faithful to the spirit of Orwell. It’s a co-production between the Almeida, Headlong and Nottingham Playhouse, which may make it sound like an opportunity for too many cooks to spoil the broth. But this is a rigorous and prodigiously confident reimagining of Orwell’s dystopian nightmare.
Michael Arditti, Express: Robert Icke’s and Duncan Macmillan’s adaptation finds a brilliant theatrical equivalent for Orwell’s prose. For once, the use of onstage video is justified to illustrate the regime’s ubiquitous monitoring techniques. Exceptional sound and lighting make the tortures of Room 101 truly chilling.
Above all, the doubling of actors as functionaries studying Winston Smith’s file and a contemporary reading group discussing Orwell’s novel makes Winston’s disorientation all the more powerful.
Susannah Clapp, The Guardian: In adapting and directing 1984 – complete with the Room, though not with full-frontal rats – Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan have pulled off something tremendous. Their production for Headlong and Nottingham Playhouse, where the play was first seen last year, has elements both of horror story and of trance.