In seeing Larry Cedar’s one man show “Orwellian” at the Odyssey I found myself overwhelmed by two glaring regrets. The first is that most of us never go beyond the dynamic duo of 1984 and Animal Farm when it comes to the writings of George Orwell. Not to take anything away from these works, each is deserving of the mantle “masterpiece”, but there was so much more to both the writer and the man. His other novels Down and Out in Paris and London, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (which has been called the best work of social criticism ever written), and Homage to Catalonia (based on his experiences during the Spanish Civil War) are works of too much talent to be so ignored.

For most of his all too short life, however, Orwell supported himself by writing book reviews and essays and it is here where Orwell excels adding his name to those of Michel de Montaigne, Samuel Johnson, Christopher Hitchens and Aldous Huxley.

In his political essays, Orwell’s acute awareness and willingness to address society’s injustices earned him the title “the saint of common decency”.

“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

“One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish a dictatorship.”

“Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception.”

His is a voice whose resonance would reverberate in these times of ours, if only anyone would listen.

The second regret is that a wider audience hasn’t availed themselves of Larry Cedar’s excellent performance. The evening is constructed from three portions taken from Orwell’s best known works. We begin with Down and Out in Paris and London then segue into Old Major speech from Animal Farm, and close with the edited tale of 1984.

Directed by Thomas Bigley the show is sparse, some would find it too sparse, but Bigley does a craftsman like job with what there is. Nick Neidorf’s sound design and the light design by Sterling Hall and Brian Schrock make solid contributions to the evening, but it is Cedar’s performance that in a just universe would be packing ‘em in.

Cedar flows from character to character and scene to scene with a marvelous precision, conveying the absurdity of some and the tragedy of others never blurring the lines between them. He is the type of actor that playwrights, when they see him, begin weighing which of their roles would fit him and imagining what others they could re-write so they would. Cedar is considering expanding and retooling the show into a longer format, here’s hoping he does.

Runs
Sat, Nov 09 – Sun, Dec 22
Thursday 8pm
Saturday 8pm
Sunday 7pm

Special Show Info
Running time: 60 minutes.

Odyssey Theatre
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Ample Street Parking