1984 (play)

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Written byGeorge Orwell (novel)
Robert Icke, Duncan Macmillan (play)
Date premiered13 September 2013 (2013-09-13)
Place premieredNottingham Playhouse

1984 is a 2013 play by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan based on the 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

Production history[edit]

The production premiered at the Nottingham Playhouse on Friday 13 September 2013 in a co-production with the Almeida Theatre and Headlong. It was created and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, designed by Chloe Lamford, lighting was designed by Natasha Chivers, sound by Tom Gibbons, and video by Tim Reid.[1]

Following a UK tour, the production transferred to the Almeida Theatre in Islington from 8 February to 29 March 2014 where it later transferred into London's West End to the Playhouse Theatre from 28 April to 23 August 2014 where it was co-produced by Sonia Friedman Productions. The production was nominated for Best New Play at the 2014 Laurence Olivier Awards but lost to Chimerica, another Almeida Theatre production.[2] This was followed by another UK tour.

In 2015 the production returned to the Playhouse Theatre in the West End from 12 June to 5 September. Following the 2015 West End run, the production toured to Nottingham and Bath before travelling to Melbourne in Australia and Santa Monica, Boston and Washington, D.C. in the United States.

In 2016 the production returned for a third time to the Playhouse Theatre in the West End from 14 June to 29 October.

In 2017, Icke and Macmillan released a US edition of the play, and directed a new American cast for the play's opening on Broadway. The Broadway production opened at the Hudson Theatre on June 22 (previews beginning May 18) for a limited run until October 8, starring Tom Sturridge, Olivia Wilde and Reed Birney.

Due to audience reactions to the shocking content, security guards were placed within the Hudson Theatre.

Before opening night of the show, those under the age of 13 were barred from attending, after actors had spotted a small child in the audience.[3]

In 2017, a version of the production played on an Australian tour, playing in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Perth, from May 13 through August 13.[4]

Extreme content[edit]

The play includes extreme torture scenes. It also includes non-linear staging, strobe lights, sudden blackouts and jackhammer sounds.[5][6]

Audience reactions[edit]

Due to the shocking nature of the play, some audience members reacted in various ways, including leaving the show, fainting, screaming at cast members, and throwing up. Two audience members had police called on them after getting into a fight after the show.[3] Among these audience members, actor Jennifer Lawrence was in attendance at a show before leaving and throwing up.[7]

Characters and cast[edit]

Character Original Cast[8]


West End


West End


West End






Winston Mark Arends Sam Crane Matthew Spencer Andrew Gower Tom Sturridge Tom Conroy
O'Brien Tim Dutton Angus Wright Hilton McRae Reed Birney Terence Crawford
Charrington Stephen Fewell Richard Katz Rudi Dharmalingam Michael Potts Yalin Ozucelik
Martin Christopher Patrick Nolan Daniel Rabin Carl Hendrick Louis Renato Musolino
Syme Matthew Spencer Ben Porter Joshua Higgott Nick Mills Guy O'Grady
Parsons Gavin Spokes Simon Coates Anthony O'Donell Wayne Duvall Paul Blackwell
Mrs Parsons Mandi Symonds Rosie Ede Cara Seymour Fiona Press
Julia Hara Yannas Catrin Stewart Olivia Wilde Ursula Mills

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Production Awards

  • Winner — 2014 UK Theatre Awards Best Director — Duncan Macmillan and Robert Icke[9][10]
  • Winner — 2013 Liverpool Arts Awards Best Director — Duncan Macmillan and Robert Icke[9]
  • Winner — Broadway World Awards Los Angeles Best Featured Actor — Tim Dutton

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2018 Tony Award Best Sound Design of a Play Tom Gibbons Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Sound Design in a Play Tom Gibbons Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design in a Play Natasha Chivers Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Projection Design (Play or Musical) Tim Reid Nominated


  1. ^ ma-work.co.uk, content: Headlong, website: M/A. "1984 | People | Headlong". headlong.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  2. ^ "Olivier Winners 2014". www.olivierawards.com. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  3. ^ a b "Why Broadway's '1984' Audiences Are Fainting, Vomiting and Getting Arrested". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  4. ^ Blake, Jason (4 May 2017). "1984: Learning to love Big Brother". www.limelightmagazine.com.au. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  5. ^ https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/amp/news/why-broadways-1984-audiences-are-fainting-vomiting-getting-arrested-1016534
  6. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/feb/16/1984-review
  7. ^ "Jennifer Lawrence Gets Sick Watching Broadway's 1984". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  8. ^ Orwell, George; Macmillan, Duncan; Icke, Robert (2013-10-01). 1984 (Reprint ed.). Oberon Books. ISBN 9781783190614.
  9. ^ a b "Robert Icke to Join Duncan Macmillan in 1984 Discussion at Drama Book Shop" broadwayworld.com, May 18, 2017
  10. ^ " 1984 triumphs at UK Theatre Awards" officiallondontheatre.com, 19 October 2014