God save us. As if Orwell hasn't been trivialised and distorted and hijacked enough.
It doesn't suggest that Sir Elton has read much more of Orwell than the farmyard fable, or he would have felt Orwell glowering in appalled silence at the idea of yet another anti-socialist tract cobbled together from his work. So I don't suppose for a second that there's a chance in hell that the show might reclaim the actual conclusion of the book, which is that there is nothing to distinguish the pigs from the farmers. Between Stalin and Churchill, essentially. If it were to undo the myths and lies spun around Orwell's politics, that would be literally fabulous.
In the conclusive great peace conference between businessmen and pigs, Mr Pilkington of Foxwood farm makes a long and significant speech to unanimous approval:
"Their struggles and their difficulties were one. Was not the labour problem the same everywhere? ... "If you have your lower animals to contend with," he said, "we have our lower classes!" This bon mot set the table in a roar; and Mr. Pilkington once again congratulated the pigs on the low rations, the long working hours, and the general absence of pampering which he had observed on Animal Farm. ..And now, he said finally, he would ask the company to rise to their feet and make certain that their glasses were full. "Gentlemen," concluded Mr. Pilkington, "gentlemen, I give you a toast: To the prosperity of Animal Farm!"Immediately after the peace conference, they all start fighting again. War will continue, and only the rulers will benefit.
Orwell was certainly criticising Stalinist communism in Animal Farm, but more for its betrayal of socialism and its collusion with capitalism than for any ideals or aspirations it might once have had. And whatever generations of misled children of all ages have been told, Orwell was most definitely not attacking socialism for being either unworkable or undesirable. Elton John's vanity project will certainly be both if he fails to appreciate this fact of the text.
Only weeks ago, George Galloway announced his plans for a musical of the life of Dusty Springfield. Has the world gone mad? Surely the scripts were sent to the wrong addresses.