Monument Theatre succeeds in portraying ‘1984’


Commentary By Lisa Gauthier Mitchison

Michael Gene Sullivan’s stage adaption of “1984” loses the tedium and ups the tension of what is now considered a prescient novel.

Monument Theatre Company takes this new look at the novel and embraces how it’s been pared down: matching uniforms, sparse setting and props, multipurpose actors. This leaves your uninhibited focus on Winston Smith (Nathan Thomas).

The entire story is told from the infamous Room 101 where Smith is being held. As O’Brien (Michael R. Tingley) forces Smith to confess his story from beginning to end — and you must be precise — many of the scenes are reenacted. Four “party members” (Riley Leonard, Raven Newbolt, Kim Egan and Deont’a Stark) are interrogators as well as actors in Smith’s flashbacks.

Monument really delved into the darkness inherent in this book and brought it out in concise and emotionally tactile ways. You can feel as well as see the despair, the hate, the desire, the psychosis. And when the rat cage comes out, the anticipation is bone breaking. Thomas’ Smith is a depleted man in the beginning, but then we see how someone can reach a whole new plane of desperation. He is ably backed by the other five cast members (six if you count Karen Sternberg as the telescreen announcer) who take on various roles and personas.

Director David Ian Lee, along with Monument’s cast and crew, have created the best presentation of “1984” I have seen. Sadly, its second weekend will likely be eclipsed by IndyFringe Festival. So, if you want to avoid the madhouse of Mass. Ave this weekend, go west instead to Indy Convergence, 2611 Michigan St., Indianapolis.


See more reviews of local theater by Lisa Gaurthier Mitchison at


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