A group of refugees arrive at Manor farm and metamorphosise into the farms occupants, reverting to animal ways that soon become overtaken by a vision of a better future. Seven characters, three female and four male, first use the farms old bath as their focus of attention for washing, before Napoleon the pig pinches snowball the horses idea of building a windmill to make life easier. As with life everything makes work and some find ways of doing less at the expense of the others. Communism bordering on fascism become mixed in George Orwells far seeing vision of what takes place around us in todays world. Northern Stages production is directed by Alan Lyddiard from an adaptation by Alan Wooldridge of Orwells far seeing novel.
The set design by Neil Murray shows us a corrugated walled barn with its loose earth floor and a pile of wooden pallets with no particular use. The newcomers soon find a so called leader who dreams up rules by which to exist, however these rules soon have riders attached as the leader and his hangers on want the rules relaxed for their own ends. Heard it before, you must have, but this is what life is all about and everyone falls for it.
The pace of the action with choreography by Frank McConnell is furious and you wonder if the cast will survive the ninety minutes of this one act, but they do and everyone in the audience is spellbound. Sonia Beinroth plays the sensible horse Snowball who pays dearly for being so, Adele Cairns plays Mollie a follower horse, John Carter takes the parts of the storyteller together with Farmer Jones, Mark Lloyd plays Major the horse and the pig Napoleon, Peter Peverley plays the pig Squealer, Caroline Reece plays the horse Clover and Mark Theodore takes on the rolls of Boxer the hardworking horse and Moses.
You will read other things into Orwells marvellous writing, but one thing is for sure, you will have had a thought provoking evening at the theatre packed with entertainment value. © BA
Animal Farm is in Leeds on the 2nd March, 2004 to the 13th March, 2004.