Words and ideas matter. “Fahrenheit 451” is just as relevant today as when it was written almost 70 years ago. The Hippodrome Theatre has kicked off its 50th Anniversary season with a rousingly dramatic adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel of the same name. Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which paper burns and the play is set in a society that not only bans all books but sets them on fire as well. Director Ralf Remshardt has assembled an exceptionally talented cast and has crafted a magnificent production that captivates his audience. The acting by the leading characters is spectacular. Niall McGinty, our firefighter hero portrays his complicated character with compelling mastery. David Patrick Ford, the fire captain reaches dramatic heights that soar. Together McGinty and Ford are mesmerizing when they are on stage together and sparks fly as their words and ideas bounce off each other and the theatre’s walls. “Fahrenheit 451” is the annual co-production between The Hippodrome Theatre and the UF School of Theatre and Dance and as such also features the work of both students and theatre faculty. Alexandra Rose Horton, a UF undergrad shines as the young heroine Clarisse and provides the spark that ignites our young hero Montag on his revolutionary journey toward startling change. Horton tales charge of the stage whenever she appears. She is a delightful sparring partner for her fireman while providing a mystical and whimsical counter point to the other characters in the play.
The physical elements for this production are superb. Mihai Ciupe’s scene design is outstanding. His standout setting makes the Hippodrome stage appear to be larger than usual. The video design by FIVE OHM brings an added dimension to the visuals. Robert P. Robins has created a lighting design that is stunning. Amanda Jones has done a fine job designing costumes that befit the time and place for our play. Jing Zhao’s original music and Amanda Nipper’s sound design are wonderful as well.
Today we face many politicians who want to remove and ban books from our library shelves. “Fahrenheit 451” provides us with a dystopian glimpse of what our future might hold if they get their way. Words and ideas truly matter. “Fahrenheit 451” both entertains and enlightens and is fun to watch.
Performances run now through September 18. Tickets can be purchased at TheHipp.org or by calling (352) 375-4477.
“Gainesville Theatre Review”