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The Farm 

Wednesday, Aug 26 2009
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Shotgun Players and director Jon Tracy have radically "remixed" George Orwell's Animal Farm into a seething hip-hop, postapocalyptic, dystopian fantasy — and it works. Production designer Nina Ball fiendishly delivers Mad Max costuming, black-inked tattoos, and a rusted metal set welded onto the back of a burnt-out delivery truck. Dance and animalistic choreography (by Elena Wright) mixed with singing, rapping, beat-boxing, and a drum set made out of oil barrels give this production the gritty, revolutionary feeling of an underground hip-hop concert mixed with Off-Broadway's Stomp. Tracy doesn't stray far from the book — a cautionary, anti-Stalinist tale about an idealistic farm animal revolution and the greed, corruption, and ignorance that follows — though you do have to listen carefully to understand the rapid-fire delivery that is sometimes too wordy for its own good. Orwell was offering up a dark warning in 1945 about power going unchecked by a willfully ignorant populace, which feels even more vital in today's political climate. Bravo to Tracy and company for keeping the message but delivering it in a modern voice of revolution.

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Nathaniel Eaton

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