Remember when the president claimed he drew the biggest crowd in history for his inauguration? He stole that page from George Orwell. The novelist predicted the rise of an alt-right, “Big Brother” party in his groundbreaking 1984 (@ BCA through the weekend). “Lock her up” is just history repeating itself. Thugs practice violence at will in 1984, no, that’s 2018 urged on by the president. Loudspeakers blare fake news 24/7 in Orwell’s dystopia. In Burgess Clark’s visceral production for Boston Children’s Theatre (@BCA through the weekend), the news is disseminated by a glamorous talking head (a riveting Dylan Kerr) on huge LED TV screens and violence is everywhere.
BCT’s cast is truly remarkable, holding their own against any professional company in town. Clark gets lovely, nuanced performances from Brendan Callahan and Alexandra Upton as the Romeo and Juliet of the future, where romance is forbidden; and a truly frightening performance from Keith Robinson as the embodiment of evil, rooting out resistance and disappearing citizens without notice. Betrayal is mother’s milk to this henchman. He reminded me of Robert Shaw’s blond villain in “From Russia with Love.” And he reminded me that our president would gladly welcome immigrants from Norway, but not Mexico. BCT opens our eyes to a bleak future of newspeak and cognitive dissonance.