Rodent alert


The Year of the Rat
Corpus Christi Auditorium
Thurs – Sat 7pm

“I respect you hugely”: this is not what most women expect to hear when proposing casual sex. The free spirited Sonia Brandwell is accordingly unimpressed with George Orwell’s blushing response to her offer of a no-strings-attached tussle in the bedroom.
Writing his second dystopian classic, Nineteen Eighty Four, and slowly dying from TB, George Orwell attempts a last shot at love inviting his friend Sonia Brownell to visit him on the remote Scottish island where he lives. As the two discuss life, literature and love we get a sense that Sonia could be the seductive antidote to Orwell’s lonely, and very English, self-restraint.

Nick Davies plays George Orwell perfect awkwardness. We watch him nervously fumbling around the stage and sitting wedged in a small armchair, dwarfed by protruding limbs. Davies’s performance captures Orwell’s childlike anticipation and simple desire to love and we cannot help but feel a motherly affection for this vulnerable figure – we not only want him to get laid we want him to be loved.

In comparison Sonia’s character, played by Georgia Waters, is a rather confusing combination of seductive temptress and “professional virgin”.  It is in conversation with Cyril, Orwell’s leery literary editor who also has eyes for Sonia, that Waters’ haughty brusqueness is lacking. Fortunately this scene is almost singlehandedly carried off by Andrew McCormack. Comically assaulting the stage as Cyril Connolly, McCormack’s performance as the persevering lecher leads him to flash his willy at Sonia in a macho attempt to woo her, leaving us chortling in our seats at this ‘mine is bigger than his’ display. Beneath this he masks a real concern to protect his friend from this femme fatal.

What may seem like a simple play of boy meets girl is punctuated by Orwell’s bizarre dialogue with a trio of animals (Rat, Pig and Boxer the horse) representing his subconscious. Michael Crowe plays these three animals with a neighing and snorting gusto that must be praised. But the play itself somewhat disappoints in its examination of one of the greatest 20th century minds. This does not deter the student cast, directed by Jacob Diggle, who masterly carry the play combining humor with a deep psychological interest in the beautiful space of the Corpus Christi Auditorium.

Parisa Karbassi


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