The 1984 stage adaptation has caused quite the ruckus, causing people in attendance to vomit and faint while watching. Based on the dystopian novel by George Orwell, it features plenty of graphic violence and torture, which audiences couldn’t take. Four people in the front row have reportedly fainted, while some audience members got so upset that they shouted at the actors.
Olivia Wilde, who most fans will remember from House MD and plays Julia in the stage show, apologized to those that fainted, but stood by the adaptation. “Sending my love to those four people who fainted in the audience,” she wrote. “Warning: this is not your grandma’s Broadway. Hope all are you!” Wilde has actually been a victim of the play’s violence, breaking her tailbone and busting her lip during a preview performance, according to Independent.
A review from the New York Times had to put a disclaimer at the start, which shows how graphic the 1984 stage adaptation is. Ben Brantley, the reviewer from the aforementioned site said “Though I usually don’t provide trigger warnings in my reviews, I feel obliged to do so here. The interrogations that Winston undergoes in the play’s second half are graphic enough to verge on torture porn.”
While audience members were shocked and disgusted by the stage show’s content, this is no surprise for fans of the original novel. It did not shy away from violence or torture, which was the point of the premise, showing how people can be unfairly imprisoned. This sentiment was shared by the production’s directors, Duncan Macmillan and Robert Icke.
Macmillan said, “We’re not trying to be willfully assaultive or exploitatively shock people, but there’s nothing here or in the disturbing novel that isn’t happening right now.” Icke followed up, saying “You can stay and watch or you can leave — that’s a perfectly fine reaction to watching someone be tortured.”