Actors manning handmade puppets bring the farm animals to life with skilled, slick physical theatre. The cast convey the posture and personality of the farm animals without falling into oinking, neighing parody. The result showcases the subtly of Orwell's humour.
We were particularly touched by the trio of horses — matronly Clover (Bethany Blake), flighty, flirty Mollie (Caitlin McMillan) and dogged, dutiful Boxer (Jerome Millington-Johnson) — who animate the animals' toils with flashes of humour and pathos.
Minimal props and sparing sound effects are used inventively to evoke first a bustling farmyard then a sense of impending menace. Though the faithful adherence to Orwell's original means it's a long, wordy show, and inevitably the narration has some lulls.
If you're left unenthused by reading Animal Farm, you won't be converted by this small-scale stage adaptation. But it does justice to the drama and depth of Orwell's writing and the clarity of the story-telling also makes this fringe show a great way to enthuse older children (especially as Animal Farm is a fixture on the exam curriculum).
|What||Animal Farm, The Courtyard review|
|Where||The Courtyard, Bowling Green Walk, 40 Pitfield Street, London, N1 6EU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Old Street (underground)|
11 Feb 16 – 13 Mar 16, From Tuesday to Sunday, 7pm. No Monday shows.
|Price||£12, £10 Concession, £7.50 educational|
|Website||Click here for more information|