Wednesday 21 November 2012

A Clockwork Orange - Review

Soho Theatre, London
Written by Anthony Burgess
Directed by Alexandra Spencer-Jones

Martin McCreadie (centre) leads the Ensemble
Action To The Word’s production of A Clockwork Orange, has finally exploded onto a London stage. Having seen the work performed at Edinburgh in 2011 and 2012, it remains one of the most remarkably electrifying displays of excellence across a company, both in individual performances and from the ensemble.
Opening with a meticulously choreographed fight ballet set to Beethoven’s 5th, the production does not flinch from portraying the ultra-violence of Burgess’ novel. No stage blood nor clever trickery are deployed by the actors, rather 9 talented and supremely fit young men throwing themselves and/at each other with a perfection of bone-crunching timing that is as sickening as it is beautiful.  With minimal use of props and extensive use of mime, movement and the most simply suggestive of costumes, scene changes are deftly executed and locations convincingly created ranging from court room to milk bar to prison. When Alex climbs on a table and mimes the opening of a window that he prepares to jump from, the tension created is almost palpable.
Martin McCreadie plays Alex, a droog or young man, evolving from street thug to murderer, and ultimately the subject of the government’s mind-washing Ludovico technique, politically motivated, to “cure” him of his criminality . His is a role requiring total commitment of voice, face and body, onstage throughout the 80 minutes of the play. No green room rests for him, though it is fair to state that the rest of the cast undergo such frequent character changes, that all of them, in one guise or another, are on stage for most of the show’s duration. It is invidious to single out names as without exception all the cast excel, though Philip Honeywell’s harrowing portrayal of a man violated by broken milk bottle, Neil Chinneck’s Dr Brodsky and Stephen Spencer's oleaginous and duplicitous government minister remain as particularly chilling moments from amongst the supporting role call of characters.

More than three years in development and with many of her original cast still in role, Alexandra Spencer-Jones has fashioned her own masterpiece from this modern literary classic and it is a credit to both her and to her company that Methuen have released the lastest re-print of the text ( first published in 1987 ) branded and foreworded with the cast and creative team details of this Soho Theatre production.
Spencer-Jones’ selection of music, that includes snatches of Beethoven’s most recognisable pieces, is modern, eclectic and punchy. Having seen the show twice on the Fringe, where both time and space impose rigid boundaries upon a troupe’s potential, to  witness it on a London stage, in front of a deeply raked audience, and with a stage that offers height and depth and lighting that were simply not available in Edinburgh, as well as a more generous time slot, is to see an already beautiful piece of work simply polished to perfection.
A Clockwork Orange is not for children, nor for the faint-hearted. But if one enjoys chic, stunning, provocative theatre, then this production is not to be missed.

Runs to Saturday 5 January 2013

To read the review of this production at EdFringe 2012 click here

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