Animal Farm

Southampton University Students Union Theatre Group, The Annex Theatre

THIS is a blistering version of Ian Woolridge's adaptation of Orwell's fable, brought to life by an energetic company, who crowd the stage with revolutionary fervour, persuasive oratory, initiated most appealingly by Alex Heyre as Major but taken to bullying Stalinesque heights by Mark Strong's Napoleon and his cronies and the final despairing figure of Kamara Atkinson as Clover.

Director Josh Vaatstra's fine cast are not dressed up as farm animals, but allow themselves tiny hesitant movements that we soon accept as indications of their animal's personalities, with Jordan Gardner as Boxer the cart horse a particularly successful example of this technique. Of course that isn't enough for Strong, who ends up cantering villainously and trading drinks with the humans next door, or Darius Timmerman's amusing preacher crow Moses.

Other characters, such as Snowball (Natalia May) and Minimus (James Adams) portray likeable and unlikeable political types during difficult 'revolutionary' times.

Ham Quentin