Theater Review: Animal Farm
By Livia Peterson
The Milwaukee Repertory Theater's Quadracci Powerhouse provides a thrust stage, frequently detaching the audience from the actors. It's far from intimate unlike the Stackner Cabaret. However, one may remember reading George Orwell's Animal Farm during the middle school (cannot recall the specific grade) if you're a millennial such as me.
"Some animals are more equal than others." The animals Major (Stephanie Weeks), Clover (Deborah Staples), Squealer (Tiffany Rachelle Stewart), Napolean (Melvin Abston), Benjamin (Jonathan Gillard Daly), Snowball (Brendan Titley), and others terminate abusive farmers, establish Animalism - follow seven strict rules, and work their butts off until they realize the pigs are the upper class at the Manor Farm.
It is easy to adore the director May Adrales (we need more women helming films and stage productions) and the diverse cast. And yet, arrive happy because Animal Farm is bleak and depressing. One is guaranteed to leave as if you're mourning the death of a family member. Still, the themes depicted such as race and gender inequality and unfair workplace conditions tap into the zeitgeist. Only the wealthy notice the benefits, not the middle class and poverty stricken today.
From the marvelous performances even though Staples, Stewart, and Weeks frequently steal the show (one could argue this production is feminist) to the effective pathos, Animal Farm provides impressive sound, movement, and production and costume designs impeccably enhancing the timely narrative.
Nonetheless, Animal Farm allows one to ponder its significant themes following attending the performance. We may be 'equal', but the lower, middle, and upper class divides us more than we discuss and recognize. B
Animal Farm runs now through Sunday, February 11, 2018.
Milwaukee Repertory Theater│Quadracci Powerhouse
108 East Wells Street, Milwaukee WI 53202