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17th December 2019

Review: 2084 – An Immersive Experience

Theatre Editor Jay Darcy reviews 2084 – An Immersive Experience at Manchester Central Library
Review: 2084 – An Immersive Experience
Photo: Paul Husband.

2084 – An Immersive Experience is an interactive, contemporary retelling of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The sold-out event took place at Manchester Central Library, a hauntingly beautiful venue that was the perfect location for a chilling dystopian thriller.

On arrival, we were greeted by two actors, in costume, at a desk; they ticked our names off a list and then welcomed us to the ministry. One of them was the Mancunion’s own Georgina Davidson, one of the Assistant Music Editors. I had not realised she was in character and waved at her, but she did a top job of staying in character, pretending we did not know each other.

We then picked up ID badges from another desk and sealed our phones in plastic bags, before entering a dimly lit bar that really set the scene. There was a live band, complete with a glamorous singer, who ended their set with a new version of ‘Que Sera, Sera’ entitled ‘Australasia’, the anthem of the ministry.

Upon arriving in the main library, we were hurried to our seats and had to complete an exam. It was stressful and daunting; I couldn’t even finish it. Chess Bradley, the Mancunion’s Arts Editor, remarked that she felt like she was doing her GCSEs all over again, and, at the end of the event, I overheard the show’s writer remark that that was the intention.

We were then taken to a more modern room downstairs. Blinds were used cleverly to reveal a room at the other side of the glass. We spied on two members of the ministry who were up to something illegal. This scene stood out to me. We then watched drone footage (though it was not actually filmed on drones, so the tech team did a brilliant job) of these two members hooking up outside of work, before once again watching the couple through the glass. The play ended with a brutal torture scene, and a member of the audience was selected to do the deed. Hilariously, at the end of the show, the writer revealed the ID number of the person whose exam paper they liked the most, and it just so happened to belong to the same audience-member! Better watch out for that girl.

The actors, aside from the head of the ministry who was dressed smart and wore black, all wore blue prison-style jumpsuits, complete with ID badges, making them nameless, and almost faceless. The play really did have a great attention-to-detail, so much so that it felt like we really had been transported to this dystopian society.

Of course, recent events make this seem all the more real, and terrifying. Gilead did not happen over night…

2084 ran in both February and December of this year, and an updated version of it will run sometime next year. I definitely recommend you join the Ministry of Truth, but only for one night…

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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