Big Brother's Watching. George Orwell's 1984 Is Commonly Seen as Not Only One of the Greatest Works of Literature but Also a Telling Prophecy of a Prevailing Surveillance Culture. Tim Dutton Who Stars in a New Stage Version of the Book Tells Dave Owens Why the Production Could Not Be More Timely

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 2, 2013 | Go to article overview

Big Brother's Watching. George Orwell's 1984 Is Commonly Seen as Not Only One of the Greatest Works of Literature but Also a Telling Prophecy of a Prevailing Surveillance Culture. Tim Dutton Who Stars in a New Stage Version of the Book Tells Dave Owens Why the Production Could Not Be More Timely


Byline: Dave Owens

The ensemble THE subject of surveillance couldn't be more of a hot topic than as it is right now. The revelation that shadowy US organisation the NSA (National Security Agency) reportedly collected data on millions of US customers of telecom firm Verizon - and more tellingly spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel for years - has propelled the subject into the public consciousness.

In every sense Big Brother is watching us and the ever encroaching threat of an Orwellian future looms ever larger.

It's more than timely then that one of the most influential novels in recent history, George Orwell's 1984 will be coming to Sherman Cymru in Cardiff from Tuesday, in a new stage production by Headlong Theatre Company in conjunction with Nottingham Playhouse.

Published in 1949, Orwell's dystopian story is one of the most influential novels in recent history, with its chilling depiction of perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance and incessant public mind control. Its ideas have become our ideas, and the writer's fiction is often said to be our reality.

Headlong visited Sherman last year for the first time and wowed audiences with their production of Medea, which was a bold re-imagining of the definitive dystopian novel.

Filtering the spirit and the ambition of the 1984 novel through the lens of contemporary culture, this radical new staging explores surveillance culture, identity and how falling in love could be the greatest revolutionary act. Playing the main character Winston is Mark Arends (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Pride and Prejudice and Skins).

Tim Dutton who is recognisable from stage and screen (The Bourne Identity, Patriot Games, Ally McBeal, Midsomer Murders, New Tricks and Harley Street) plays his nemesis O'Brien.

"It's a nice part to play," says Dutton, speaking to me from Liverpool where 1984 is about to open that night at The Playhouse Thatre.

"He represents Big Brother, the Party - the totalitarian organisation which controls the way in which we live.

He revels in double think. That is holding opposing views or differing views about the same events.

"The ambiguity of O'Brien's character is based around the question of is he party or not party, is he part of The Brotherhood, which is the resistance movement. What actually is he? It's interesting to put that out there to be analysed rather than nailed down exactly. It's up to the audience each night to make their own decisions. …

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Big Brother's Watching. George Orwell's 1984 Is Commonly Seen as Not Only One of the Greatest Works of Literature but Also a Telling Prophecy of a Prevailing Surveillance Culture. Tim Dutton Who Stars in a New Stage Version of the Book Tells Dave Owens Why the Production Could Not Be More Timely
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