A Clockwork Orange
“A Clockwork Orange is a must-see”, says WILL DALRYMPLE.
ADC Theatre, 7.45 PM, May 20th – 24th, £12/9.
Anyone going to see this ADC mainshow production of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange with the book or the Stanley Kubrick film adaptation in mind will leave the theatre surprised. The script takes the story and characters of the novel and imbues them with a robust and high sense of theatre and caricature, and the production rises competently to the challenge.
The design of the play is spectacular, with subtle yet powerful lighting moods (including an astonishing use of strobe lighting in the second half) bringing out the best in the stylish and attractive sets. The slightly ostentatious costuming of the film has been forgotten in favour of something less distracting, and props are used well (even in a slight mishap in scene transitions by one of the actors, which was greatly appreciated by the audience). The infamous brainwashing scene – without wanting to spoil anything – is spellbinding and affecting, bringing the first half of the play to a memorable close.
The cast on the whole tread the line well between the comedy and underlying seriousness demanded by the script, in particular Mark Milligan’s dazzling, thoughtful and fun portrayal of Alex, the central hooligan of the play. The play’s publicity promises that Alex ‘revels’ in his trademark ultraviolence, and Milligan does exactly that, whipping around stage with boundless energy. Georgie Henley manages to bring some much-needed warmth to the Chaplain, getting a few decent laughs along the way, and Tris Hobson’s deltoid has a uniquely hilarious physicality about him.
Credit must also go to Rosanna Suppa as Georgie and a superbly over-the-top Warden, and Max Maher for keeping the fury of writer F.Alexander from teetering over into the absurd. Ed Broadhead’s Brodsky, while suitably detached, is a little one-note to light up his scenes, and one can’t help but think that Richard Skipper is playing his collection of supporting roles exactly the same. These minor quibbles aside, the strength of the cast is worth the ticket price alone.
It is the second half of this play, however, that makes it a must-see. The opening twenty minutes of the first were a little uncertain in tone and pace, with moments of comedy and pathos alike getting lost in the mix. The key factor lacking in this first act is what has made the story of A Clockwork Orange so iconic: violence. The fight between Alex and his gang of droogs against a rival faction of hoodlums is excellently choreographed but doesn’t last nearly long enough- it’s a flicker of what I felt should dominate the first half of the narrative. The uncertainty left by the first half soon gave way to astonishment at the superlative second, which on its own would warrant the full 5 stars.
As it is, A Clockwork Orange is confident, stylish and breathtaking, and well worth the price of admission.