By JAMISON STEVENS
Citrus Valley’s Blackhawk Theatre Company premiered its second play of the 2017-2018 season in late October based on George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” With the combination of the burgeoning talent of a number of freshman actors with their equally-adept costars as well as the experienced eye of director Michelle Grotness and the auspices of the BTC’s Elena Villa, this production proved to be a gripping story of one man against an intolerant society, one that not only intrigues the audience, but also causes them to look back at society as a whole.
The play, adapted from Orwell’s novel of the same name, follows the somewhat mock trial of the main character Winston Smith as he is judged by party members of the government of Oceania controlled by Big Brother, an ideological figure of the totalitarian control which looms over the people and the story. By means of fearful and hateful propaganda and an instilled sense of corrupt morality, the people live in like fashion, with nearly every aspect of their lives controlled by the government. However, Winston is one of the few whose mind and life have not been completely corrupted; he still maintains the image of the past in his head, even though the thought, or any such thought, is a crime. Thus is the context of the story: a man accused of the crime of free thought and the actions he takes to fulfill his thoughts.
Having been under production for only about a month, “1984” came together with strength and poignancy, demonstrating once again the talent and dedication of the BTC and its actors. Particular significance came from lead actor Isaac Gonzales, junior, whose performance came off with the intensity and nerve needed for the role. Senior Zackaria Aburajab’s performance as the First Party Member and Winston required a rigorous juxtaposition of characters at times, but with a great sense of pathos and stability, the role was very well defined.
Behind the scenes there was also a considerable amount of effort put into the design of the set and props by Jennifer Vincent and the Production Design Class, which produced a very unique set design, that consisted of a forwardly-slanted frame surrounding a pit wherein the main character stayed for the entirety of the play as well as large screens onto which various pictures were projected. Along with a balanced-yet-detailed combination of special visual and audio effects as well as music, the intended futuristic atmosphere was achieved with full technological force.
Despite the new faces and short time, the BTC produced yet another quality play this season, with the same to be expected for the coming productions.