Guy Masterson performing in his solo adaptation of George Orwell's classic book, Animal Farm. Photo © Peter Mould.
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Don’t miss Guy Masterson’s Animal Farm at Wilton’s Music Hall

Guy Masterson’s critically acclaimed solo performance of George Orwell’s Animal Farm runs at Wilton’s Music Hall for one week only.

Guy Masterson’s critically acclaimed solo performance of George Orwell’s barnyard satire runs at Wilton’s Music Hall from 23 to 27 January. It’s the first time Masterson has put on the play in London since 1997.

Masterson has toured Animal Farm across the globe, to rave reviews wherever he performs. His solo adaptation of Orwell’s book has been performed over 2000 times, half by Masterson himself.

The number of times Masterson has performed the play is a testament to his inimitable energy. He uses this energy to bring to life the characters from the book. 

Masterson does so with only the help of a bowler hat, a whip, his homemade sound effects and a box. Normally Masterson uses a bale of hay, but this has been struck off due to fire regulations. 

When I met Masterson to discuss the upcoming run at Wilton’s, he showed me his rendition of Boxer, the stoic plough horse who works himself to death. He hunched over, banged and scraped the ground, and bellowed an impressive neigh. It’s easy to see why he doesn’t need many props. 

‘I work with the audience’s imagination. I’m not trying to dictate how their imagination sees things,’ Masterson says. By allowing the audience to use their imagination, Masterson believes that everyone in the audience has their own unique experience. 

It is such an active performance that Masterson had to lose twelve kilos to prepare for it.

Masterson’s energetic rendition will appeal to children eight and up, while adults will find this stage version of Orwell’s classic funny, dark and sinister. 

Animal Farm tells the tale of a group of farm animals who turn against their human owner. They create a society where animals can be free and happy. However, over time, a pig named Napoleon seizes power and makes the farm as bad as it was when the humans were in charge. Orwell wrote the book as an allegory for Stalin’s takeover of Communist Russia. 

Orwell’s message that power corrupts has never been more relevant to politics, argues Masterson. Masterson doesn’t impose his own views on the play, but he hopes he can remind people that it is crucial to remain engaged in politics. 

‘In every political system, once people get into power they will try to retain power.’ To reinforce this message, Masterson weaves in contemporary political references which are sure to provoke groans from the audience. 

Masterson is particularly excited about working at Wilton’s again. He describes how you can even smell the history of the theatre when you enter. The small-capacity theatre has an atmosphere at once grand and intimate, with a recent refurbishment retaining much of its historic character. Wilton’s was founded in 1859 and has a storied past, reflecting the ever-changing landscape of the East End.

If you haven’t visited Wilton’s in a while, you will be glad to hear they have added cushions to the previously rather hard wooden seats.

Tickets start at £11.50 full price or £9 concession. Performances are at 7.30 pm every day from 23 to 27 January. There is a matinée performance at 2.30 pm on 27 January.

If you are planning to attend Animal Farm, you can find a place to eat before or after the show with our list of the best Whitechapel Curry Houses.

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