Theatre (adaptation, multimedia)

  • Assembly Roxy - Upstairs
  • 18:55
  • Aug 28
  • 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Suitability: 16+ (Restriction)
  • Country: United Kingdom - England
  • Group: Proletariat Productions
  • Warnings and additional info: Contains distressing or potentially triggering themes, Nudity, Scenes of violence
  • Babes in arms policy: Babies do not require a ticket
  • Policy applies to: Children under 18 months


A chilling new retelling of George Orwell's seminal novel. Live action and filmed image combine to reimagine 1984 as a ghost story as the feverish recollections of Comrade 6079 Winston Smith play out after thinking a thought and falling in love. Winston lies alone in a cell in the Ministry of Love, arrested by the Party for thoughtcrime. Imprisoned for weeks, or months, his mind races with feverish recollections of the events leading up to his arrest. Thoughts of the Party, of Big Brother, of Julia, torture him. But the real torture is about to begin.

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General venue access

  • Accessible entry: There is 25 steps into the performance space. The surrounding street area has some cobbles/uneven pavements.
  • Wheelchair access type: Not fully wheelchair accessible

  • Stairs: 20+
    Number of stairs is provided as guidance and is not in addition to any wheelchair access type (lift/ramp etc) stated above.

Each venue can contain several space with different accessibly information. Visit the venue page for full venue accessibility info

How and when to make an access booking

Our access tickets service is available to anyone who:

  • Would like to book specific accessibility services, e.g. a hearing loop, audio description headsets, captioning units, seating in relation to the location of the BSL interpreter
  • Requires extra assistance when at a venue
  • Has specific seating requirements
  • Is a wheelchair user
  • Requires a complimentary personal assistant ticket to attend a performance

Gracemount Advanced Higher English Class 30 days ago

An unforgettable experience for pupils and staff. From the moment we entered the theatre we were overcome by the ominous atmosphere. The actors' ability to portray raw emotion, and suffering only intensified this experience. From beginning to end, we were with Winston in the dystopian world of 1984. Our only regret is that we only saw it once. Thank you for an exceptional performance.

Justine T 31 days ago

Must-see. Quality show by the crew. A searing tale of love and betrayal, memory and agony. Prepare to feel an intense series of emotions in the quest for what's real and what isn't.

Roger Harris 32 days ago

A sttong and well-consttucted rendering - a powerful performance that reinforced my memories of the book and its messages. It achieved more than I expected - well worth seeing.

Superna Khosla 32 days ago

Excellent performances woven tightly to squeeze every moment of fear and hope out of the hour. There was no escaping the torture of Winston’s mind (and body) through the visceral delivery of the actor. Clever use of film but let down slightly by an incongruous ‘Julia’

Shravan Sood 32 days ago

Gritty, visceral interpretation of Orwell’s dystopian sci fi novel. Left audience uncomfortable/ squirming, which is exactly what Orwell intended. Must see!

Veteran Fringe addict 33 days ago

One of the best books I have read and not easy to recreate on stage but the group did an excellent job. Highly recommend.

Stuart Burns 33 days ago

Absolutely brilliant, powerful production which had me on the edge of my seat from the start. Very effective use of video inserts to take the action beyond the confines of the stage which enhanced the production. Fantastic performances from all and Orion Powell in particular excelled as Winston Smith. (Spoke to him briefly outside and was pleased to have the opportunity to let him know how brilliant I had found the experience). The music added to the atmosphere which was chilling and edgy throughout. Thought provoking and uncomfortable viewing but an amazing show. Definitely worth a visit.

Iain Stringer 34 days ago

A very moving and disturbing show. Rightly so. I could see audience members becoming restless and uncomfortable with the horror if it all- just like the book. Well done to everyone involved. Go and see it people

Clare 34 days ago

1984 is an incredibly difficult show to bring to life on the stage, in part because of the complexity and in part because it’s so well known, with a number of different interpretations of what is the most important aspect of the book to bring to life.
This production brought it to life fantastically in a 70 minute adaptation that captured the characters and kept it moving at a pace the audience could keep up with, while also feeling that they are spiralling into insanity at the same time.

I have loved the book for many years, seen several theatre adaptations of it and seen the film, but at this performance I happened to be sitting beside two people (strangers to me) who had no experience of the book film or play. When I laughed at the venues no recording announcement and was met with confused looks, it became evident I was not only seeing a show I loved, but would also witness the impact it had on completely fresh eyes. One chap left the theatre chatting to their friend with enthusiastic reviews of how they were shocked and made to feel uncomfortable while also intrigued to know more of the characters; they other chap clicked straight on to Amazon to buy the book as we walked out, so I believe it’s fair to say that this production done Orwell proud and made people think.

Andi aramburu 34 days ago

Must see!
If you like the book you will love it, really recommended (5 stars)

Sean Davis 34 days ago

1984 (*****)
The play brings Orwell’s dystopia to life with all its terror, trysts, and demands for psychological fealty. With sparing use of videos, the three actors keep Winston’s life hopeless and isolated the way I still remember the whole book 50 years later. The torture scene where he must see five fingers when there are four epitomized was perfectly wrought.

This is the 12th most enjoyable of the 184 shows I have seen so far at the Fringe this year. I hope to see almost 200. You may see my other three-sentence reviews, in order from most enjoyable to worst, at my non-commercial website: https://fringefan.com/

Dazza 34 days ago

Like many, I read the book when at school, which I think was around 1984 at the time.

This is a difficult book to convert to stage, and particularly so within the restrictions of The Edinburgh Fringe where little set is possible. Of course it would have been ideal to have all the action on the stage rather than part on film, but I think that the way it was done got the story across. The acting by everyone was outstanding, and the guy playing Winston Smith gave the role everything he could, with conviction and great delivery.

Regarding the film, my only comment was regarding the room and also the cafe, I think they were a bit too clean and modern, and would have benefited from being more dreary and worn out, in line with Orwell's description of the world under Party control. However this a minor observation which should not detract from the quality of the play, which was excellent.

Zoe Moskal 35 days ago

Spectacular - A Must-see!!

I honestly cannot recommend this show enough! Sensitive individuals might feel overwhelmed at times, but those willing to embrace a dark, full-on experience containing some potentially triggering scenes such as displays of violence, abuse and distress, will be mesmerised by this spine-chilling re-telling of Orwell’s famous masterpiece. If you enjoy an emotional challenge, book it now!

It’s an immersive, shock-to-the-system rollercoaster ride that had me on the edge of my seat and is one of the most heightened, intense and awe-inspiring theatre experiences I’ve ever had. Sat right in the front row, mere paces away from the cast, I felt like I was truly IN the room, an onlooker in the real situation as the tragedy unfolds, watching helplessly as the protagonist, Winston, is tortured, humiliated and broken down, the emotions coursing through and spilling out of him. Empaths will feel both his pain and his determination. It felt hyper-real, and I wanted to help him, whilst simultaneously looking on in morbid fascination as the corrupt, authoritarian O’Brian steadily breaks down his defences and morale to make him submit to The Party’s brainwashing system. (If you are unfamiliar with the plot of the book you may become a little confused at times, so I’d advise looking up a blurb of the book, or a plot summary if you don’t mind spoilers, but it’s not essential).

Winston’s performance was impeccable - so raw and believable. Another reviewer says that depicting being tortured is “the easiest to play for an actor”, but it was so much more than just the screaming in pain. His facial expressions, tone of voice, shaking, body-language, movement on stage and sheer depiction of hopelessness and agony in subtle ways in The Ministry Of Love made me hold my breath and my heart pound in my chest. I was so impressed too at how physically resilient this actor was, allowing himself to be manhandled and thrown around onstage. I was worried for his safety at times, which goes to show how convincing and genuine these scenes came across. It must be exhausting doing that every night and I take my hat off to him for putting so much of himself into the performance both emotionally and physically, unafraid to be vulnerable before the audience in the small intimate venue.

The actor playing O’Brian was also spot on and perfect for the role. He was brought in at the last minute after the original actor had to step out, and met the rest of the cast only one day before the first performance. As a result he had to read his lines from an iPad, but if the show was audio only I would never have guessed it! He read them so confidently and smoothly, embodying his character and projecting his voice well. It sounded like he had had far more time to practice than he did. I admired the fact he was able to be so active onstage, moving around and interacting with Winston physically whiteout dropping the iPad or breaking character. He gave a strong, commanding performance and emanated evilness and power convincingly. (He has another, very different, lighthearted comedy show on at The Fringe, which I’ve booked to see on Sunday!).

The scenes of Winston’s memories with Julia, the girl who he fell for and had a forbidden love affair with (going against the draconian rules of The Party) were conveyed to us through film, giving a hybrid cinema and theatre experience. The two elements gelled well and didn’t feel disjointed. The screen element in fact felt apt, since screens are such an important theme of the story. It also made it clear these were Winston’s flashbacks so it wasn’t confusing going back and forward in time. One of the scenes of theirs was a little overlong and I felt the chemistry between the two of them could’ve been stronger, but this is really nitpicking and it didn’t take away from the rest of the show. I liked Julia’s accent (I think it was French?) and Winston’s Irish one also made him stand out as the main character. The well-spoken English of O’Brian really suited the role too. This mix of nationalities shook things up a bit, adding extra interest.

The rest of the cast were also strong performers and supported the leads well. The script was well written, with some stand-out lines and it portrayed the story and themes perfectly, brought to life by the actors.

The bottom line is I absolutely loved this play, so much so that I’m seeing it again tomorrow night! If you want to see a stand-out show that dares to be different with no holding back from the cast, this is for you. You won’t forget it…or regret it! To quote the book, “Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else”. This rings true, since I felt like I transcended reality, transported into this dystopian world from beginning to end. I left the theatre still high on adrenaline with my head spinning in the best way possible. I think this is an an adaptation Orwell himself would’ve applauded.

Jeff Rice 35 days ago

Not great I tried to like this but I think it took too much out of the book and I just didnt get the Winston and Juia relationship.

I dont believe theres been a really successful 1984 adaptation for the stage it works better as a film. No ones yet to top the John Hurt movie

Ian & Jacqueline Knox 35 days ago

An excellent adaption of the novel, blending pre-recorded scenes on a large screen with on-stage performance. The set is minimalist in the extreme but worked really well to emphasise the starkness of both the society and Winston's life.

The small cast were all very good, especially Winston Smith, and hats off to the actor playing O'Brien who stepped in as a replacement only days before the play started its run.

Ned leckie 36 days ago

A must see. The cast executed the performance brilliantly and delivered a thought provoking and intense production of a fantastic text. Hats off to the actors who gelled together superbly and performed a quality performance.

Nicholas WATKINSON 36 days ago

We saw this ‘on spec’ on Monday 21st and were very impressed. An intense 70-minute evocation of Orwell’s classic and still all-too-relevant novel is an ambitious project, and by and large a successful one. Given the constraints of the physical space it was perhaps inevitable that the scenes featuring Julia should be screened rather than acted: this heightened their sense of being utterly unlike the usual drabness of Winston’s world but sometimes the overall tension of the story slackened as a result. The directly acted scenes culminating in the chilling confrontation between Winston and O’Brien have not lost their power to shock and disturb. It’s a fine piece of theatre to see.

Calum 36 days ago

Tense, neurotic and at times terrifying this is an accomplished take on Orwell’s dystopian classic. The production blends cinema and stage to recreate Smith, W.’s life flashing past — right before his eyes. The performances are suitably terse with the small cast creating a sense of the stifling world of Airstrip One, although those unfamiliar with the book may struggle to follow the finer details of the story at times. Overall a strong show that pays suitable homage to the original format. ****

miriam levy 36 days ago

Wonderful. Brilliant reflection on a brilliant text. A must see high quality theatre experience. Five stars!! One of the best things we have seen ( of 25!)

Stuart Collinson 36 days ago

Gotta say I wasn't really impressed with this. The balance of film and live theatre wasn't that great and the film bits themselves weren't interesting enough. To be fair the size of the screen didn't help much. I know they had an actor in at short notice to play O'Brien and the guy did a decent job but reading off a tablet took me out of the drama.

Jacqueline B 36 days ago

Absorbing, disturbing and memorable

Quinn Ng 38 days ago

Fortunate enough to grab front row seats to this stellar performance. The raw emotions portrayed by the lead was stirring and I thought the multi media added to the performance reflecting the surveillance society. The rest of the cast were amazing too and I wouldn’t have known there was a last min change to one of the actors. This is a performance that will stay with you. One of the highlights of my trip!

Mary-Jane Powell 38 days ago

Really enjoyed this show. Would definitely recommend it. The lead character in particular is a very talented actor, very believable and the actor who seemingly stepped in last minute did a really good job. The use of the film worked really well in my opinion. Well done to the whole cast. A very high quality production.

johnthegardener 38 days ago

What an awe inspiring performance by the lead character, Winston Smith. It is rare to see such a first class acting at Ed. Fringe and he is certainly an actor to note for future plays. This production follows the book very closely and the use of film assisted in explaining the relationship between Winston & Julia. Personally I think this approach was effective. If star rating is needed let's make it *****

Erin Edwards 38 days ago

Just saw this and would definitely recommend! I thought the acting was great. Winston was brilliant and our performance had an unexpected change in cast last minute for O’Brien. The guy who stepped in was really great and will definitely be going to see his own show this Fringe. The script could have used some editing but overall a great production. Great work!

Roseanne Brown 39 days ago

This version of 1984 left much to be desired. It sadly failed to capture the depth and nuance of Orwell's work. The production felt disjointed, with pacing issues that made it difficult to connect with the characters. The minimalist set design often left scenes feeling empty and lacking the atmosphere needed to convey the oppressive world of the novel.

I have to agree with the other reviewer who wasn't impressed by the filmed scenes. They were flatly filmed, performed and overlong. Things picked up during the torture scenes and the actor playing Winston should be acknowledged for his work conveying Smith's pain and humiliation. The question has to be asked though, "was it worth it?"

Amy Golden 39 days ago

I thoroughly recommend this fantastic play. Five stars!
Deeply moving and startlingly still relevant in modern day times.
The mixed media of film and live acting fits the story well.
Book this now!

Richard Rolfe 39 days ago

Good theatre entertains the audience, great theatre moves the individuals within it. It also challenges and inspires them.

This fringe interpretation of 1984 was great theatre!

The acting was superb from all members of the cast especially the lead. He 'left everything he had on the stage' giving a five star performance. What an exceptional talent!

The other cast members were both amusing and sinister and made for a truly memorable experience.

Three things occurred to me as I left.

1. Live theatre is important
2. 1984 is still so relevant in 2023
3. The performance tonight was brilliant, memorable and a highlight of my Fringe experience.

Gina Kotini 41 days ago

Unfortunately, didn’t enjoy it at all. Most of the play was pre-recorded and shown on a screen with neither great acting nor great film directing skills. The longest part of the in person performance was taken by the final scene of tortures which I think is the easiest to play for an actor due to it being highly emotional and involving lots of screaming, which I won’t call a real theatre.
The description said this play retells and reimagines the novel but I’d say it was quite a literal reading of the 1984.

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The Student (3/5 stars) 30 days ago

raw, uninhibited performances that perfectly capture savage dehumanisation and its effects.

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Get Your Coats On (4/5 stars) 36 days ago

Come for a classic done proper. Stay for a fine ensemble. Get your blue boiler suits on comrades and go see this!

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