Godlight Theatre Company, which has a history of presenting riveting productions of novels almost impossible to stage, hits another home run with a powerful presentation of George Orwell’s novel of the terribly oppressive society: 1984…Alan Lyddiard’s adaptation of Orwell’s novel has brought forth a very chilling tale…Joe Tantalo’s direction is letter perfect, keeping the story moving smoothly, and the tension ever-increasing…Gregory Konow is perfectly cast as Smith…Another standout is Dustin Olson who soullessly spouts the party line…Original music and sound design by Andrew Recinos, and lighting by Maruti Evans are excellent.
Visceral shock and awe are to be expected with Godlight Theatre Company...Joe Tantalo can shoehorn more narrative—often combined with impressive visual and aural effects—onto a postage-stamp-size stage than do many other directors working in larger houses. His production of Alan Lyddiard’s fleet adaptation of 1984 is no exception...Andrew Recinos’s soundscape chills (his use of a dentist’s drill borders on genius), and Maruti Evans’s quicksilver lighting appropriately jars...Nick Paglino, as Parsons, raises sniveling toadying to delicious heights.
Given Maruti Evans’ claustrophobic production design (actors idle in corners or the theatre’s entrance area when not performing), Tantalo makes the most of minimalism. And anyway, 1984 shouldn’t be an orgy of special effects, though Andrew Recinos’ original music and sound design can be appropriately unnerving. As in the novel, our main focus is on Winston (hollow-eyed, haunted Gregory Konow), a man already withered to a final shred of individuality...There’s so much that’s smart about this production. Having the ever-running telescreens played by four women (Deanna McGovern, Katherine Boynton, Sammy Tunis, and Scarlett Thiele), for example, has a quality of real subversion. And Lyddiard and Tantalo don’t make it easy for these actors, who utter long strings of seemingly innocuous words, creating a torturous white-noise hum.
The extreme level of intensity—and potency—of Joe Tantalo’s production of the classic novel is directly related to his choice to eschew high-tech effects and rely on the most basic and fundamental theatrical elements to tell Orwell’s frightening cautionary story. This is a 1984 without television cameras or screens, without futuristic gadgets or gewgaws, without—for the most part—scenery. Maruti Evans’s masterful production design consists of a claustrophobically small square space...It’s a 1984 that prods and jolts the intellect more than it touches the heart. The prescience of Orwell’s work is kind of breathtaking; we need to be prodded and jolted like this. A strong cast serves Tantalo’s vision well. The standout is undoubtedly Nick Paglino as Parsons; he has a remarkable scene with Winston near the end of the play that’s as compelling as anything I’ve seen in the theatre in months.
Let’s not beat around the bush. The Godlight Theatre Company production of George Orwell’s 1984, now playing at 59E59, might just be the best show you’ll see this season. Here’s why: It’s crisp. Alan Lyddiard’s adaptation is lean, powerful, and doesn’t pull punches…It’s cohesive. It’s hard to find a flaw in this impressive production. Lead actor Gregory Konow, who plays Winston Smith, delivers a brilliant and exhausting performance, careening through a startling range of emotions from ecstasy to despair to ennui to abject terror…It’s current and the result is electrifying.
Godlight Theatre Company’s Joe Tantalo has managed to create a show that is technically tight, atmospherically compelling, and requisitely creepy...Visually and aurally, George Orwell’s 1984 is appropriately minimalist and slick. In Tantalo’s version of this “futuristic” totalitarian state, Big Brother manifests in effectively ominous and thrilling ways...heightened by goosebump-raising sound effects (sharp, chilling work by Andrew Recinos) and nightmarish light from above...an innovative and skin-crawling presentation by Maruti Evans.
Godlight Theatre Company’s portrayal of sterile dystopia achieves its intended effect: The play is both provocative and unsettling. Sound and lighting are expertly utilized throughout the performance to create and maintain the sense that every action is dominated by an unyielding and unseen totalitarian force...It is a frightening vision of an overreaching government. Perhaps most disturbing is the way it smashes the notion of human integrity...a captivating play.
Over at the 59E59 complex, the Godlight Theatre Company presents an awesomely imaginative stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 — a work that’s all the more terrifying now than when it was published 60 years ago, because its vision of a world in which everyone is under constant observation is much closer to reality.