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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Creation Theatre Company

Box office

01865 766266 or at
3rd Floor, Cherwell House, 1-5 London Place, Oxford, OX4 1BD.



The United Reform Church, 294A Banbury Road, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7ED.

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Review of Animal Farm

24th April to 11th May 2024

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

A barnstorming production

When George Orwell's novel Animal Farm was published in 1945, the dictator Stalin, the model for the ruthless pig Napoleon, who rules the farm at the end of the story, was still leader, with the Soviet Union preparing for a Cold War with the West. Russia is still a threat to the UK but in Helen Eastman’s entertaining, high tech production of Animal Farm, adapted by Australian playwright Van Badham, the satire is entirely on Donald Trump, possibly the next president of the US, rather than Vladimir Putin.

A giant screen dominates the haybale and wooden box-filled stage (designer, David Spence) in the nave of Summertown’s United Reformed Church. Along with live action, the audience watches documentaries, film clips of the church filled with ‘sheep’ wearing Make Animal Farm Great Again baseball caps (yours for only a tenner), Newsnight-style interviews, a Winnie the Pooh type map animation, text messages and tweets.

The early days of the revolution led by the Trotskyite Snowball (Anna Tolputt) are filled with hope and gaiety. The drunken, ineffective posh farmer Jones (Nicholas Osmond, doubling) is exiled to the local pub and the farm is filled with animalist posters and green flags.

The narrative arc develops from this new democracy, lauded on television, to a nascent terror regime based on starvation diets, a culture of forgetting helped by the short lives of the animals, and terrorism in the shape of gun-toting dogs.

The Cockney thug Napoleon (Osmond, doubling), slowly metamorphosing from a balaclava-wearing pig with pink glove trotters into more recognisable human garb, stands at the church’s lectern. He preaches a warped gospel adapted from Animalism’s founder, the long-forgotten Old Major (Herb Cuanalo). Gaggles of chickens, hilariously clucking in a huddle, the loyal horses and donkey, are all kept in line by Napoleon’s jovial propaganda comms chief Squealer (Emily Woodward), responsible for adapting Old Major’s seven animalist commandments written on the wall.

News reports about the failures and disasters on Animal Farm are countered with dishonest allegations of fake news.

This contemporary updating of the novel gives a fresh perspective on the truths exposed by Orwell 80 years ago.

Another winner for Oxford’s leading theatre company


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