COUNTER CULTURE 10/08/14 - POWERFUL & EFFECTIVE George Orwell's tale of a revolution betrayed is brought to the stage by the Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Georgia's most famous son was the model for the pig leader, Napoleon; former Soviet leader, Josef Stalin.
In this allegory, the animals of Manor Farm overthrow the rule of the tyrannical Farmer Jones and set up a new regime where all animals are equal under the new ideology of Animalism. However, to defend the revolution, the newly christened Animal Farm gradually cedes, without realising the consequences until it's too late, all power to Napoleon and his coterie of pigs.
Props and costumes are minimal in this production but that is not a problem. This performance is in the Georgian language with simultaneous English language surtitles displayed overhead. In practice this works well. Arguably, it allows for greater concentration. Through dance, movement, gestures and a cracking soundtrack we can soon work out who are the sheep, the pigs, the hens and the dogs in this effective piece of physical theatre.
Stalinism is dead and gone everywhere but in North Korea, but the temptation to trust a ruler who is 'always right' is still with us today. Animal Farm is great reminder of the truth of the words of the Psalmist who said, "Put not your trust in princes". (David Kerr - Counter Culture - 10/08/14)
BROADWAY BABY 10/08/14 - REMARKABLE & POIGNANT "the Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre Company present George Orwell's Animal Farm in a remarkable, poignant enactment of the dangerous rise of tyranny in a state where ideals of freedom and equality are distorted by figures of authority. A magnificent satirical performance of Orwell's masterpiece.
At Manor Farm, the animals are far from happy with the way Farmer Jones treats them. They decide to fight for a new social ideal named Animalism and revolt against the cruel sovereignty of humans. Their idealism wavers, however, as it becomes clear that although the pig leaders proclaim all animals equal, in reality some of the animals are more 'equal' than others.
The show, performed in Georgian, is doubly tense as it evokes the figure of Josef Stalin who, though unmentioned, looms like a spectre over the action. At first, being faced with a foreign language makes the audience feel acutely separate from the 'animals' onstage. But, as the action unfolds, we grow used to the surtitles and become caught up in the action, making it easy to forget the language barrier. We feel more and more akin to the animals, fitting the play's satirical intent, which likens human behaviour to that of animals.
The set and costuming are simple but effective. A stack of hay bales sets the scene and a list of the laws of Animalism hang as a backdrop. The laws stand as an ironic reminder of the political ideals the revolution was based on - these rules are modified or disregarded as the action unfolds. The twenty-two cast members are dressed in simple costumes that only suggest animals, but the animals emerge through the physicality of their performance and their impersonations of animal sounds.
The large cast size is an asset, as the ensemble perfectly embodies social chaos without being chaotic in itself. The many characters move around the stage in a skillfully choreographed fashion, symbolizing the play's consideration of the clock-work of society - how it functions until the nuts and bolts that keep it rolling are damaged or removed. The twenty-two strong cast also guarantees the powerful use of song in the performance - their unified voices, strong and confident at the beginning,dwindle as their unity falters.
The Tumanishivili Film Actors Theatre Company provides a magnificent satirical performance of Orwell's masterpiece. They put forward a thought-provoking enactment of the disheartening untenability of idealistic equality that's well worth your time and money." (Maria Hagan, Broadway Baby, 10/08/14)
THREE WEEKS 08/08/14 - BEAUTIFUL & GRASPING "the allegorical story of George Orwell's Animal Farm needs no telling, but the Edinburgh fringe production of it definitely needs seeing. This world premiere is performed by the prominent Georgian theatre company Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre in their native language (with English subtitles). Using Georgian music and dance elements, the large ensemble exhibit the various individual animal characters, emitting realistic sounds and stylised movements. Set against an almost bare stage containing just hay bales and a signpost, the production follows Orwell's original story closely. It's an especially relevant production for the company, given that Georgia was Joseph Stalin's birth country, and powerful music and performances culminate in a beautiful and grasping piece of physical theatre. (Keara Barnes - Three Week 08/08/14)
THE STAGE: 08/08/14 - A FANTASTIC PRODUCTION "Aproduction of Animal Farm at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is always going to attract a few audience members who didn't read past the title in the programme. But those who were initially a little surprised that this show, by the globally renowned Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre Company of Tbilisi, was going to be performed in Georgian soon realised that the fantastic production made it well worth reading the surtitles.
Shuffling onto stage in a muttering of moos, neighs and clucks the 25-strong cast are astonishingly good at portraying farm animals with a simple flap of an elbow or balled-up, hoof-like fist. And the fact that these humans pretending to be animals are singing about the fruity fields of England,' in Scotland, in Georgian, just adds to the surrealism of George Orwell's allegorical novel.
Joseph Stalin came from Georgia and so many of the problems encountered by the animals as they switch to Communism must have felt especially poignant to a cast who have lived through the consequences. Edinburgh powerhouse director Guy Masterson has wisely avoided making this link too explicit, though. The focus here is convincing and energetic performances from a cast who are clearly all on the same page. Don't let the surtitles put you off. (Lauren Paxman - The Stage 08/08/14)
PUNTERS REVIEWS - EDINBURGH 2014
Mike Boer 20/0814
A clucking baaaaaaad-ass show with moooooving performances about life on a faaaaaarm. The actors displayed eggstraordinary ability to bring the aaaaaanimals to life. Too baaaaaaaad it wasn't in a laaaaaaanguage I could understaaaaaaaaand!
Ross Fraser 19/0814
It is a pleasure to listen to the actors in this Georgian theatre company speaking Georgian (the production is surtitled). The ghost of the Soviet Union hangs over the stage like the shadow of a vulture. And the songs and mannerisms are so rich and subtle, I wonder how many of the cast found inspiration in the past antics of Georgian grandparents and relatives during the glory days of the regime in Moscow. The production is a richly layered presentation of Orwell's classic effortlessly compressed into an hour. Although the performances were somewhat uneven, many of the actors were outstanding (Squealer the party apologist, and Boxer the faithful plough horse especially come to mind). Worth seeing, even if you've read (or been forced in school to read) the famous book.
A Mcintosh 09/08/14
excellent show enjoyed it very much. although the actors are not actually dressed up as animals, I found that their animal mannerisms and acting made this a very poignant play and very true to animal farm. the subtitles are easy to follow and the actors singing and speaking in their native Georgian language for me added to my enjoyment of this play
xcellent adaptation. Dark, slightly scary and sinister at times, as it should be. I wouldn't recommend it for children under about 12, partly because of the dark tone and also the surtitles require the viewer to read fast at the same time as watching a wonderful physical performance. At first you think it will be impossible to watch and read, but you soon get used to it. Highly recommended.
Riveting performance, overflowing with energy.
Heather Quillish 03/08/14
Outstanding from beginning to end!
Urmita Kundu 03/08/14
A very innovative portrayal of George Orwell's book by a multi talented Georgian cast directed by Guy Masterson.
William Kennedy-Milne 02/08/14
Saw the first preview showing and it was superb. Very physical, great animal mannerisms and sounds you'd bet were some sort of backing track, but aren't. Orwell's story really comes to life and these splendid actors deliver a stunning performance! The subtitles are easy to follow, and the fact that the animals speak Georgian complements their otherness to humans. The Georgian harmonies of this large ensemble singing 'Beasts of England' etc. deliver a splendid musical side to this story I've never previously experienced. A real must see 'Amkhanagi' (Georgian for comrades)!
I was very impressed with this show. The animals were wonderful & I loved the way they moved. The fact that they didn`t speak in English was also very effective. The quality of the acting was first class & the songs added another dimension to the play. Well done!
I saw this play yesterday, and was very impressed. It was a brilliant show, and I really enjoyed it. I am deaf, and the captions were a godsend. They were displayed mid stage above the actors, and were so easy to follow, though sometimes they were a little fast! It's been a long time since I was able to enjoy a play at the Fringe. Well worth a visit.