Taking on the infamousÂ Animal Farm, as The Seeing Place Theatre manages in this 2-hour plus, slog through one of the most famous literary allegories of all time, is surely a Herculean effort. Brandon Walker, who adapted the text, and co-directs; Erin Cronican (co-director as well as Executive Artistic Director of The Seeing Place); Laura Clare Browne, and William Ketter cavort, crawl, bray and buck through 28 different roles between them, in the small, yet well-appointed basement space of their East Village home.
Although I have always felt Orwellâ€™s point is hammered home in the book (a poignant point that it is), I applaud this excellent production, celebrating as The Seeing Place is, the 75th anniversary of Orwell writing the book. Piling on the unending rhetorical one-upmanship and waves of bleakness one gets with this work, this could have all too easily rolled forward as just oppressive mayhem, but the company here outfits themselves perfectly in their hard work. In addition to the brilliant acting, Lorena Ndokajâ€™s uses her lights in the small space to optimum effect, and Brandon Walker manages the perfect mix of undulant animal sounds.
By the time we get to the famous, ‘animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,’ you realize there is no hope here, a feeling one is often left with reading Orwell. I donâ€™t know how the actors â€˜shed their skins,â€™ as it were after their masterful enactment, but this is a smashing way for this group to mark their landmark 10th season. We need all be cautioned on our animal-ness.
ANIMAL FARM plays for a limited engagement February 13-23, 2020, get tickets here: www.TheSeeingPlace.com