Isumi Inabi's innovative costume design combined puppetry prison-wear to achieve a dystopian look. Photo courtesy of Michael Brosilow via Center Stage.
The workers work and the pigs eat. Or at least in the late George Orwell’s captivating novel, the pigs drink milk and lounge in beds. Baltimore Center Stage recreates this classic novel telling the story of a revolt against forced labor. Orwell’s political satire, “Animal Farm,” has come to life through striking movement and robust songs. The story follows an old boar named Major, who inspired freedom for all animal-kind against their common enemy — man — only to discover not too long after their leader is put to rest, so are his dreams for equality.
Instead of a utopia, audiences are first greeted by the flickering light of a blood-spattered Manor Farm, in shambles. Watch the uprising amongst comrades and friends turn into a reign of terror and greed. Director May Adrales executes a stirring vision of the war on industrialization and the many victims of its outright abuse of power. From bull plows to bullhorns, a vibrant band of animals fight to govern themselves but soon find themselves in the fight of their lives.
“All Animals Are Equal!”
The mistreatment by Farmer Jones has gone on long enough. It is time to bite back and learn the alphabet. With the ‘Beasts of England’ anthem and the seven commandments, justice will finally see its day under the soaring flag of Animal Farm. But with every new balance of power comes those who try to tip it over. Under the rule of Comrade Napoleon and his gang of pigs, being rewarded for bravery is soon replaced with blind obedience. A rallying cry ignites as the rebellious animals take over the farm. But as quickly as they have obtained these rights, they are soon after stripped away. As conditions worsen under a false impression of progress, equality becomes uncertain for one, let alone all.
Baltimore Center Stage manages to submerge their audience into a work that exposes the fragility of morals in a dog-eat-dog society. Costume designer, Izumi Inabi, combined elements of unique puppetry and uniformed looks that served the world of the play. Her elaborate pieces allow for a range of mobility and expression that actors used as the groundwork for their transformations. The cast successfully embodies their inner animal through vocal and physical work. And by utilizing specific gestures, they neatly capture the characteristics of different roles in a society.
In Adrales’s director’s note, she explains, “My direct aim in this production is not to sway political affiliations, but rather for us to think critically on the very nature of civilization and governance.” Animal Farm sends a revitalizing awareness to audiences of the changing tides of revolution.
“Animal Farm” will be running at Center Stage until April 1. Tickets are available online.