1984: A Talk with David Whitney

David Whitney in 1984 - Shake & Stir [image supplied]
David Whitney in 1984 – Shake & Stir [image supplied]
Enter a dark world run by a totalitarian government. They watch you constantly. They control your life. They control your thoughts. They even rewrite history.

What would you do? Would you comply? Would you try to escape? Would you lose yourself? After a sell-out season last year, George Orwell’s classic, 1984, is set to return to the Brisbane stage.

Shake & Stir cast member David Whitney, veteran of the stage and screen, found time in his busy thirty-one venue tour schedule to have a chat. Not wanting to reveal too much of the plot, he describes his character O’Brien, as ‘The unknown factor – mysterious. I get to show many different sides of him; charming, menacing…’

The only new kid on the block, Whitney is replacing Hugh Parker as O’Brien, and he has had no trouble fitting in with the returning cast. He viewed archival recordings of the show, and loved what was already there. He raves about how professional Shake & Stir is, and stresses how faithful this production is to the book.

1984 -Shake & Stir [image supplied]
1984 – Shake & Stir [image supplied]
When Whitney initially read Orwell’s book, it struck him first and foremost as political, though he adds, ‘the characters in the book really stood out to me. You invest in the love story. It’s about hope.’ However, Whitney goes on to label this production as ‘Pretty full on – visceral’ (which this reviewer can attest to by witnessing a person suffering a panic-attack during last year’s run).

Whitney also points out how prescient the book was, in an age before CCTV, and how relevant it still is today, sixty-five years after its publication. Particularly, he continues, is its use of language. ‘Double-speak’, or ‘spin’ these days, is in use everyday: call an asylum seeker an illegal alien and you provoke an entirely different response.

Whether you have read the book or not, everyone should experience 1984. Honestly, it should be mandatory viewing/reading for anyone who votes. Last year the season sold out before it began, so book now to avoid missing out.

1984 will play at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC from July 15 till August 2. For more details see the QPAC website.

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