Undeniably one of the most important books ever written and published almost 70 years ago, 1984 is a prescient warning of authoritarian rule and a surveillance state that has only proven itself to be more and more well-reasoned as time goes on.

But with such a literary monument for source material, is it possible to do justice to one of the genre-setting political novels on stage?

That is exactly what Headlong, Nottingham Playhouse and Almeida Theatre have set their sights on in their production of 1984 at the Playhouse Theatre in central London.

The play covers all the main plot points of the original classic, as the obedience of government employee Winston Smith begins to unravel and he finds himself an agent working against the sinister and clandestine The Party and its famed figurehead, Big Brother.

Somewhere outside of time - and the book

From the opening scene, it's clear this is not a page-for-page adaption of George Orwell's final novel before his death, as our lead man Winston -played flawlessly by Andrew Gower- finds himself somewhere outside of time, and in some kind of book group discussion on the unforgettable work.

This bouncing around in time (or Winston's mind) runs throughout the play and is a perfect device to draw parallels between the predicted-reality of 1984 and the modern times.

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Andrew Gower as Winston in 1984

While the book itself sticks solely to Orwell's imagining of the year 1984 and makes no reference to the time it was written, the play makes perfect use of its contemporary audience by asking them to look outside of the fiction to the world around them: an inspired start to a continually inspiring production.

Also on the hard-hitting agenda for the evening's entertainment was the ceaseless use of audio-visual technology throughout the show.

Vicious voyeurism

Hidden cameras capture much of the drama and are projected overhead perfectly capturing the vicious voyeurism of The Party's surveillance, while strobe lighting and head-shattering sound effects cause physical pain, giving the audience cause to suffer with Winston and his passionate companion Julia.

The special effects really show the impact a high-budget production can have under the command of obviously skilled and masterful directors like Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan.

However, the discomfort from the intense flashes of light and high pitched squealing caused serious distress for one poor woman who had to be stretchered out of the theatre mid-performance, and I can only hope she was okay.

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Overall the cast were well suited to their roles, but there were two performers who controlled the stage and our attention with blistering intensity: Andrew Gower as Winston and Angus Wright as the enigmatic, charismatic O'Brien.

Gower's gormless stumbling about the staged juxtaposed with his profound and deeply philosophical monologues perfectly captured the conflicted but clueless hero of the tale.

This is a must watch

While Wright's stern, monochrome O'Brien was the perfect choice to lead Winston down the rabbit hole before finally tearing him to pieces within the never-dark walls of Room 101: a sinister performance to equal Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith in The Matrix series.

All this, followed up with a glorious and unremorseful torture scene and a gorgeous moment where masked troops dismantle the set around a horrified Winston, make 1984 one of the most immersive, unsettling and affecting performances I have ever seen.

For fans of Orwell, or anyone who wants to see what can be achieved on stage, this is a must-watch.

1984 runs at the Playhouse Theatre London until October 29. For tickets, see the Playhouse Theatre website .