REVIEW: Animal Farm at Blackpool's Grand Theatre

Just because it has been co-produced by the Children’s Theatre Partnership, don’t make the mistake of thinking this touring adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel is just for junior theatregoers.

By Tony Durkin
Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 5:42 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st April 2022, 1:25 pm

Director Robert Icke’s take on Animal Farm excels as a intensely thought-provoking allegory for the horrors of communism, complete with violent scenes as a whole load of animals are massacred for treachery.

Recommended for ages 11 and above, it’s dark and gritty and the puppetry is expertly delivered at an ideal pace in a performance which lasts 909 minuts without an interval.

In similar fashion to Icke’s previous production War Horse, Animal Farm’s puppets are designed with exceptional attention to detail by Toby Olié, and Bunnie Christie’s set design adds greatly to the dark content of the story, consisting of a handful of corrugated metal walls and barn doors, while two headlights are enough to invoke a sense of fear as they denote a farmer’s vehicle.

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Animal Farm features remarkable puppetry

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Orwell’s book is a classic early secondary school set read and this production certainly kept the group of Year 8 pupils from Poulton’s Hodgson Academy watching from the dress circle enthralled throughout.

The puppetry, voiced by actors’ recordings, is remarkable and each scene is marked with text on an overhead projector, which excels itself in adding ominously to the drama when the deaths start rolling in.

Animal Farm is a cautionary tale which works as well today as when Orwell wrote it decades ago and this adaptation is a theatrical experience which is highly recommended.

The production is a gritty and thought provoking take on Orwell's classic work

It continues at the Grand until Saturday, April 23. Details at www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or 01253 290190.