- Associated Press
Friday, June 23, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) - As an actress, Olivia Wilde has lots of reasons why making her Broadway debut in George Orwell’s dystopian thriller “1984” is special. As a mother, she has just two: her young children.

“Well certainly becoming a mother helped me understand that you have to really focus on the future and what we’re doing now and what’s going to affect our children’s future,” Wilde said Thursday after opening night.

“The message of the play is that we should love one another, and I hope my kids glean that from this experience,” Wilde said.

The novel and stage adaptation tells the story of a man who works at the Ministry of Truth promoting adoration of the mythical leader Big Brother. He illegally falls in love with Wilde’s character and endures terrible torture.

The brutality onstage has disturbed audience members, prompting producers to forbid anyone under the age of 13 from seeing this production. The actors put their bodies on the line, too.

Wilde broke her tailbone early in previews, and then split open her lip in a later show. She had no idea she would get knocked around so much in a play.

“It’s an intense story and it involves a lot of intense participation,” Wilde said. “Sometimes, it’s been physically intense, but great. I don’t feel the pain until we’re offstage, anyway.”

That same dedication extends to Tom Sturridge, who takes on the role of the doomed protagonist. Part of what he endures is what has upset audiences, and the actor admits it’s not easy putting it behind him each night.

“What is so exciting is to do a play which engenders such visceral reactions in an audience, be it people who are walking out, people passing out, people vomiting, people screaming out. Theater should be that way,” he said.

For his troubles, Sturridge ended up with a broken nose. But that’s something he plays down in favor of the greater message of Orwell’s tale.

“It’s a physical play, and we wanted to tell the story, go to the lengths that are required. Sometimes that causes a little bit of pain,” Sturridge said.


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