A Clockwork Orange.
16 February 2017
Action To The Word’s version of the Anthony Burgess classic has been touring the world since its debut in 2011, and now arrives at the Park Theatre for a run. In the programme notes, director Alexandra Spencer-Jones speaks of the still relevant work, “The pathways of damage inherited by our young look like broken yellow brick roads leading to a miserable and all too white house of horrors… It is ever painfully relevant.” An exhilarating 90 minutes, it has Berkoff encoded in its DNA, East and Greek providing the foundation upon which this production is built. This is physical theatre with a capital PHYSICAL, rubbing testosterone into the face of the audience, performed to a blistering soundtrack of not just Beethoven.
The ensemble of nine work as one, the lines and invented language of the Droogs as chiselled as the abs and Pecs on show. Tricky to pick any one individual out, but Jonno Davies is a powerful Alexander, particularly in the prison and rehabilitation scenes, with Damien Hasson an excellent Chaplain and Simon Cotton a sinister Dr Brodsky providing effective counterpoints to the horror. James Smoker and Will Stokes are prime examples of the excellent ensemble playing, projecting energy that fills every particle of the auditorium. The cast waste not one minute drilled to a high level, and it may have been interesting to have reduced the dialogue even further and tell the tale through physicality even more. They have your attention from the minute they walk slowly into the bare space, demanding your concentration.
Given the heightened physical style of the production, inevitably some roles are little more than caricature. Sadly this is the case with almost all of the female and the elderly roles. Whilst the horror of the physical, sexual and mental assaults are not glamorised, too often these roles are played solely for laughs. There is more to be mined there that could not only say more about Alexander’s place and rage in society but of women too.
The production is a kind of Berkoff ballet, true to the spirit of the source material, but imprinted with an originality that will stay with you after the play ends. If you like your theatre muscular and direct, this is the show for you!
Until 18 March 2017
Photos: Matt Martin