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Fahrenheit 451
Published on Sunday, 16 August 2009

In this, their fourth trip to the Fringe, ExaDUS present an adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s dystopian tale - Fahrenheit 451. Set in an American city, the story shows an oppressed society in which books are banned... and the fire brigade has taken the role of thought police, burning any book they find.

The protagonist, Guy Montag, is a third generation fireman, whose life is transformed thanks to an accidental meeting with the 17-year-old girl Clarisse. Her youthful love of books helps convert him - but instead of gaining support from his wife, he finds an enemy. Betrayed for keeping books at home, he becomes a fugitive. While running away from the fire brigade he encounters a community of book-loving degenerates, and among them he finds Clarisse... will they achieve happiness together?

Despite the slightly altered plot and a new reading of many characters, the piece is still compelling. It has the power of Bradbury's original, but sounds fresh and topical. Sketches on football, TV talk shows and chick-flick TV series successfully link it to our contemporary high-tech society, with its powerful media presence and decline in the reading of books.

The dynamic pace, physical-theatre elements and the high spirit of the actors is invigorating. There are some sparkling moments, and all of the seven actors showed excellent individual presence on stage. They didn't quite work together to get into their roles, but two of them - Keir Watson (Captain Beatty) and James Murfitt (Guy Montag) - stand out, and particularly deserve the audience's applause.

Fahrenheit 451 is a charming performance, with a lot of potential. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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