Animal Farm

The measure of genius in any art is its relevancy over time. When George Orwell wrote Animal Farm in 1945, conservatives regaled in its anti-Stalinist message. But to take Orwell's work as a criticism of a particular ideology is to ignore his commitment to freedom from all forms tyranny.

Orwell fought with the Loyalists against the Spanish fascists and Franco in the Spanish Civil War (Homage to Catalonia, published in 1938), railed against the totalitarianism developing in Western democracies (1984, published in 1949), and linked the ascendancy of monolithic societal control to the decay of language (Politics and the English Language, published 1950).

Given the centralized control of mass media in the United States and the attendant reaming of the Constitution, particularly since Bush's Reichstag (9-11), it becomes clear in the Germinal Stage's current production of Animal Farm that Orwell could just as well have been talking about the betrayal of the American Revolution.

Photo of Dane Torbenson, Suzanna Wellens, Tim Elliott, Lori Hansen, and Stephen R. Kramer
Dane Torbenson, Suzanna Wellens,
Tim Elliott, Lori Hansen, and
Stephen R. Kramer
Under the direction of Ed Baierlein, a talented ensemble of five actors play out this political allegory, assuming the roles of pigs, horses, birds, sheep, and donkeys. With great physical and vocal control, Tim Elliot, Lori Hansen, Stephen R. Kramer, Dane Torbenson, and Suzanna Wellens anthropomorphize these beasts into the political animals we know so well: While the pigs rewrite history and seize community resources for their own private gain and pleasure, those with lesser cognitive abilities dutifully accept state propaganda and their slavish lot.

Set against a faux woodblock backdrop and sporting costumes reminiscent of post-World War II realism, Germinal Stage's production leaves the inescapable impression that Orwell was writing about our own time. Animal Farm, adapted by Nelson Bond from the book by George Orwell, runs through March 9th. 303-455-7108.

Bob Bows


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