Preview: EUTCO’s Animal Farm

On Wednesday evening I was fortunate enough to get a preview of EUTCO’s production of Animal Farm, to be held in the Northcott Theatre on campus next week. The performance I saw was a dress run in their rehearsal space in Roborough Studios, where the stage was marked out by black tape, and, in place of the 2.5 metre structures that will be in the Northcott, there were a few tables and chairs. And yet, even in this brightly lit rehearsal room, somehow, I was utterly drawn in.

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Directed by Abi Clarke and co-produced by Laura Betts and Jack Dryden, this stage adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novella is fascinating. The story of corrupt power and rebellion is told through the voice of a GCSE student who rereads the book, becoming increasingly absorbed in the action. The whole thing is underscored with original live music, written by student Daniel Wakefield, which fosters a fantastic atmosphere.

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The majority of characters being animals presents a very obvious dilemma, but it’s dealt with so cleverly it left me in awe. What with puppetry, physical theatre, and some very convincing animal noises, I genuinely believed in each and every one of their characters. Phoebe Newlan’s performance as Muriel the goat is a particular treat.

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Phoebe Newlan as Muriel the goat

You don’t need to have read the book to enjoy the show. In fact, watching this made me feel as though it was meant to be a stage production all along. It’s an exceptionally well put together play by a very talented group of people, and certainly not one to miss.

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 – Anna Bonet

Animal Farm will be held in the Northcott Theatre from the 18th to 21st January. Tickets can be bought here: https://exeternorthcott.co.uk/calendar/animal-farm/  

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