15 April 2013

Review: A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange
Action To The Word, Lee Currie, GHP
9 April 2013
Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse
to 21 April, then touring

Action to the Word's production of A Clockwork Orange has divided audiences and it's already being declared genius or drivell. I thought it was horrorshow.

If you have no connection to the 1962 novella by Anthony Burgess (who wrote this stage adaption) or Kubrik's 1971 film (based on the book), that means I liked it.

I saw the film when I was too young to understand the world of violent young men and wasn't inspired to read about it. Now I want to, especially after hearing what led Burgess to write about violence and choice: his pregnant wife was beaten and raped by American GIs during a WW2 blackout in London.

For all its uncomfortably alluring violence, A Clockwork Orange isn't a glorification of this world (I'm not a Kubrik fan), but it tries to get into the head of a teenager who sees it as his best choice.

Director Alexandra Spencer-Jones is in her early 20s and says that her interest in the work started with Romeo and Juliet, another world where young men are violent and don't understand that there are options, and she chose to work with an all-male cast to fill the stage with testosterone. This unexpectedly de-genders the work and takes away assumption of character based on gender (and Kubrik's casual misogyny).

What I loved most about this production was seeing how this group of young talented UK artists are looking at violence. As sweet young artists, they are far from Clockwork's hero Alex and his droogs and offer nothing new, but seeing it through their eyes is fascinating.

It takes a while for the tone to settle. It begins a bit too Westside Storyish with dancing thugs, but the violence and shock of a rape brings us firmly into the stylished physicality and dark humour of the world, and the cast (led by Martin McCreadie, who lets us feel the charisma of Alex's violence) embody the world with a passion and discipline that makes it curiously delightful to watch.

I suspect that enjoyment or appreciation of this Orange will be dependent on a connection to the book or film, especially as Burgess's Nadsat slang takes time to understand and being in a large venue (the show started off in intimate rooms), it's gloriosity is lost beyond the first rows.

And touring a large cast to a far-off land also means that ticket prices are way more than its Fringe run and may well place this show out of reach of the people who would love it the most. I suggest keeping an eye out for deals.

This was on AussieTheatre.com

Chris Boyd (The Australian and The Morning After) wrote my favourite review on Facebook.

I ittied along to A Clockwork Orange last nochy hoping it would be dobby, or at least something I could get my zoobies into. But it were just a pain in the sharries.

As one of the starrier vecks in the audi-aud, which was full of bugatty lewdies and beauteous devotchkas, I knew a lot of the older tunes we were slooshing, especially by Ludwig van. I make no appy polly loggies for that. But I did recognise all of the tunes the ptitsas and malchicks dance to, too, oh my brothers. I can kopat a bit of Gossip and even Placebo. And I’ve done a bit of the old in-out in-out to David Bowie (who got his eemya from the Bowie nozh, you know?) in my day. But The Eurythmics just make me bezoomny. Their music is cal, ain’t it? And ‘Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)’ is kinda obvious right? It made me wanna creech and crark, and go all ultraviolent.

I thank Bog it’s all over.

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