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Animal Farm at Richmond Theatre  

Brilliant. Powerful. Captivating..

These are just some of the words we at ONIN have used describe the newest production of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ currently performing at the Richmond Theatre until Saturday.

Orwell’s satirical masterpiece is a political novel published in 1945 telling the story of revolution and its aftermath and is a classic allegory on communism. After Old Major, the prize boar, has a dream one night the various animals at the farm come together to overthrow the farmer and run the farm themselves with the principles of freedom and all animals being equal as their pillars. But what comes next? Are all animals equal or are some more equal than others? 

The story is told through stunning puppetry designed by Toby Olié of War Horse fame and  brought to life by multi-award winning director Robert Ickle whose stage direction is a bold, energetic reworking of a classic. The nimbleness of the puppeteers is amazing as they wrap or crouch around the puppets from the imposing  figure of Boxer the cart horse to smaller animals like the hens and the cat. Through mannerisms and movement each animal is given their own personality. 

Miniature puppetry is employed sparingly but to great effect to show the scale and geography of the land and time passing. 

Four-time Olivier Award-winning Bunny Christie’s almost empty set design features moveable corrugated iron walls to depict the barn or homestead whilst placing emphasis on the remarkable puppetry. The colour palette of the black and grey stage creates a stunning visual against the white, grey and brown tones of the various animals and enhances the bleakness and grittiness both on the farm and in the themes. An overhead projector marks each scene with text and ominous beeping, which is used to powerful effect when names are paired with a ringing bell.  

Tom Gibson’s sound of thumping bass and soaring orchestral arrangements paired with Jon Clark’s lighting, from the dawning of the sun to the brief blackouts during the battle sequences,  helped convey the tension, terror and action sequences.   

With no interval in the 90min production , Animal Farm continually engages and utterly immerses you from start to finish, an impressive feat given we already knew the outcome from reading the book many years ago. It’s truly a magnificent production that should not be missed. 

‘Animal Farm’ is at Richmond theatre until Saturday 14th May before it heads to Wolverhampton and Bromley. Further details are available at www.animalfarmonstage.co.uk  and www.childrenstheatrepartnership.co.uk

Address: Richmond theatre, 1 Little Green, TW9 1QH.

Telephone: 0844 871 7615

Website: https://www.atgtickets.com/venues/richmond-theatre/ 

Instagram: https://instagram.com/richmondtheatre 

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/RichmondTheatre 

Twitter: @RichmondTheatre 

Written by Caitlin Neal 

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