Farm” cast members, from left, Deborah Staples,
Kelsey Rodriguez, Stephanie Weeks, Brade Bradshaw
and Jonathan Gillard Daly. The Milwaukee Rep will
put on the play to Feb. 11.
some strange reason, human beings, despite their
history, often continue to believe that somehow they can
eliminate greed, inequality, poverty, sickness and all
injustices and create the perfect Utopian society. Ah,
our incredible credulity lives on.
Farm” at the Milwaukee Rep opens on a relatively
sparse stage as we witness animals engaged in grunt
work. Suddenly a commanding figure comes down the aisle
and speaks to a rapt audience - the animals on stage and
Major, eloquent and impassioned, urges the animals to
start a revolution in which animals, instead of humans,
lead. The Major is powerfully portrayed by Stephanie
whole production, adapted by Ian Woolridge, speaks the
universal truths that, though George Orwell’s allegory
was a satire on the Soviet Union, in any society there
will always be power struggles, turncoats, the changing
of rules to accommodate those in power, deceptions and,
in the end, despite the original attempts to create a
better life for all, there will always be those “who
are more equal than others.”
translation, so artfully directed by May Adrales, is
creatively enacted by eight actors who play all the
the use of masks and puppet-like representations of
animals, the characters, through carefully choreographed
movements and sounds (Nancy Lemenager), distinctly show
the similarity between humans and animals.
the almost-illiterate horse (also played by Weeks),
represents the unquestioning follower. She believes
everything Napoleon (Melvin Abston), their porcine
leader, says. Snowball
(Brendan Titley), who once shared the leadership
position with Napoleon, eventually deserts in
frustration. Clover, so sensitively portrayed by Deborah
Staples, and Benjamin (Jonathan Gillard Daly), both
question the changes that Napoleon is making. They
represent the protesters when the authorities are
engaging in immoral practices of lying and cheating and
abandoning the contract that all initially agreed upon.
last major character (Tiffany Rachelle Steward) is a
vain pig who knows how to mooch up to the leaders to get
what she wants. There will always be sycophants among us
who know how to play the game. Stewart was the only
member of the cast who was difficult to hear at times.
90-minute uninterrupted drama was powerful and
provocative. I kept discovering congruities with
today’s society - the false promises, the lust for
power, the inequalities, the disparities between words
are still capable of being bamboozled by those who
promise us the moon. It is even suggested by Orwell that
religion can also be used to make people put up with
many injustices, for they will be rewarded in the next
the overriding evidence that humans have committed
atrocities throughout history, we still want to believe
that mankind is capable of nobility and goodness (which,
of course, it is). We still continue to believe that our
leaders will make our lives better, though they seldom
do. They overwhelmingly act out of self-interest.
it is hope that makes life bearable. That seems to be
the dominant message here, but that is not the
overriding feeling with which one leaves the theater.
It’s a very worthy production.
play runs through Feb. 11 at the Milwaukee Rep, 108 E.
Wells St., Milwaukee. Call 414-224-9490 or visit
www.milwaukeerep.com for times and tickets.