Young Reporters: Brave New World blogs
Brave New World Review By Andrew Young
Set in a future where emotion and individuality have been sacrificed for happiness and stability, Aldous Huxley’s classic novel is brought to the stage in a new adaption by Dawn King and directed by James Dacre.
Brave New World tells the story of a world in which people are grown in labs and engineered to fit into a specific caste. Alphas run the world, supported by the middle-managing Betas. Deltas act as their servants whilst the most menial tasks are delegated to epsilons. All art and culture has been outlawed, replaced instead by shallow entertainment designed to placate the masses and support the rampant consumerism that controls all of society.
Despite the original novel being written in 1932, these issues seem more relevant to our society than ever before with the debate over “designer babies” and an increasing move away from traditional family values. This is a fact that the play is more than happy to lean upon as characters act with a combination of laughter and horror at concepts such as family and religion, stopping just short of throwing a knowing wink out to the audience.
The play opens with the audience themselves are cast in the role of trainees being shown around the London Hatchery by its director (played by a charming James Howard). It’s an interesting twist on the book’s first chapter and one that helps to immediately draw the audience into the play.
Through this scene that we are also introduced to three of the main characters, Beta Lab Worker Lenina (Olivia Morgan), Alpha Psychologist Bernard (Gruffudd Glyn) and World Controller Margaret Mond (Sophie Ward). Mond is a character who is traditionally male but casting a woman in the role is a stroke of genius, bringing an ironically motherly overtone to the character.
It is only later though that we are introduced to the key player in the story, John The Savage (William Postlethwaite). John comes from the savage reservation, where people still marry and raise children, and is thrust into “civilized society”. Postlethwaite delivers an emotional performance as a man in a world he does not understand in some of the most powerful scenes of the play, particularly in the second half.
For the most part the play sticks rigorously to the original storyline, however a new epilogue has been written to end the play. Whilst this epilogue does not really add much to the story, it does provide a nice loop back to the beginning which provides a sense of closure.
What really brings the play to life is the set design, turning the stage into an imposing futuristic landscape. This is aided by a variety of screens, alternating between strange images of cellular division and a bombardment of advertising slogans. This combined with the pulsing background music of The New Puritans creates a dark and foreboding atmosphere.
Brave New World is a faithful adaptation of a classic novel, with enough new touches to make it a truly memorable evening.
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