A Clockwork Orange

Who ever heard of a Clockwork Orange?

If not for the effortless dynamism of Richard Hill’s Alex then this production could very well have collapsed before it started.

The direction is inconsistent at best, a tonal quagmire at worst. Deeply sickening scenes of rape and iconic ultraviolence (all exceptionally constructed) are perplexingly paired with almost slapstick comedy routines, playing for laughs with cheap stereotypes and Loony Tune exaggeration. While this may be in effort to mirror the bewildering ideological mind-trip of the A Clockwork Orange source material, it comes off more as mismanaged.

Thankfully then, Hill is an absolute joy from interpretive dance opening (by far the strangest, and strongest, sequence of the play) to swansong finish. Equal parts menacing, disturbing, enigmatic and – yes – even sympathetic, Alex has been brought to visceral life in a performance Malcolm Macdowell would surely praise.

300 words are undoubtedly too few to satisfactorily gush in this instance so lets cut it short at this: Hill is magnificent.

Plaudits too to the imperious Lucy Dollman. Outside of her unarguable acting proficiency and the plaudits it demands, it is respect that Dollman deserves. Respect for tackling an indescribably challenging role – or roles as the case may be: playing every female character from a victim of brutal rape to a slovenly ghetto mother – with a commanding sense of professionalism and skill.

Although a largely faithful adaption, the production culled one integral element: subtext. The milk bar is stripped of mystery, as is the theory behind Alex’s treatment, not to mention the enigma of Alex’s post-experimentation future.

Ultimately however, A Clockwork Orange is a master-class in efficiency; lights and sounds, including several classic music tracks, are utilised with unerring skill, the opening gang-fight an exceptional conflation of visual and aural stimuli that makes the utterly bizarre instead uniquely enjoyable.

It is just a shame that little of the rest of the performance matches this level of pure entertainment, though it is still well worth a viddy.