Far from seeming out of date and fantastical, Creation Theatre’s new production of Nineteen Eighty-Four hits home with some chillingly topical references. At the VIP Press Night on 9 February 2017, the Penningtons Manches team and their guests were treated to a gripping performance of this adaptation of a ‘dystopian tragedy where everything is seen and recorded and the true gravity of our situation lurks behind the benign smile of global connectivity’. Few could ignore the resonance of George Orwell’s vision written in 1949 with the current day world of fake news and political doublespeak.
Before the performance, a short panel discussion on ‘A data-driven society’ was led by Oxford partner Chris Shelley, who advises many local technology companies. Dr Rhys Newman from The Mind Foundry gave a fascinating insight into the latest in machine learning and artificial intelligence, and Jo Vengadesan, a partner in the Reading office, responded to the challenge of how the law tries to keep up with such rapid developments.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is the latest in Creation Theatre’s programme of highly innovative productions, all sponsored by Penningtons Manches’ Oxford office. It is staged in Oxford University’s new Mathematical Institute, which is rapidly converted from student study area by day to a disturbing modern-day world of Big Brother in the evening, where Party members roam around and everything is filmed. The production showcases the venue’s stunning architecture, with the prologue performed above the audience in the atrium of this iconic addition to Oxford’s architectural landscape.
Maybe not an evening of entertainment for the faint-hearted, with scenes of torture in ‘Room 101’ and a despairing outcome, but a truly thought-provoking and memorable evening which guests will remember for a long time to come.