A Clockwork Orange: Inciting Sexual Excitiment, But Luckily, No Violence.
by Ross for frontmezzjunkies.com
The film, A Clockwork Orange, that this play is based on is considered a classic by most, and can be found on numerous ‘best films of all time’ lists. It’s a shocking and violent indictment of society adapted, directed, and produced by Stanley Kubrick back in 1971. Although much maligned and misunderstood at the time (my friend and theatre companion had never seen the movie because it had been withdrawn from release in England by Warner Brothers at the request of Kubrick in response to allegations that the film was responsible for copy cat violence), I was thrilled to see how a stage production of the tale of Alex and his gang of droogs on a teenage rampage of rape and violence could manifest itself live on stage. And would it instill the same see saw of emotional discomfort as it did when I saw the film decades ago.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, originally developed and presented by Action to The Word (U.K) still snaps of relevance and power, just as it did so many years ago. As directed with precision and high sexual voltage by Alexandra Spencer-Jones, I gather it will certainly be embraced by the theatre community of New York City, just like the film was. It has the slickness and the detailed eroticism that generally helps fill the seats, but oddly feels a bit more shallow and a tad less emotionally connecting. There is definitely a strong precise vision of how to tell this complicated and violent story through the impressive and athletic choreography and stagecraft, and that aspect works majestically. Much like the production of Afterglow over at The Davenport Theatre, the homoeroticism of the incredibly ripped and sculptured all male cast pumping and writhing in highly charged sweat inducing choreographed moments, is sure to entice and excite. The crowds will come, but at least in A Clockwork Orange, the beauty of this piece is set more strongly in the story of Alex. Set to a blazingly loud score of Beethoven and rock guitar (original music composed by Glenn Gregory and Berenice Scott; Sound design: Emma Wilk), his depravity and salvation, if you want to call it that, is never discarded or minimized, but amped up into a frenzy of ultra sexual and violent moments filled with potential meaning and criticism of the state of our society.
Center stage for the most part is Jonno Davies (West End’s Shakespeare in Love, Film: ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’) in a star-making performance as the ultimate idolized bad boy, Alex. Dangerous and demented, while also holding us firmly in his handsome and charismatic gaze, the actor, who is also credited with the title, ‘fight captain’, is giving us his all, and succeeding marvelously. Sporting the perfectly sculptured body, hair, and face of a Versace model selling us expensive cologne, he has surprisingly crafted out a fairly detailed persona of a man pulled to the extremes of violence without giving much of a choice in the matter. Choice, being one of the stronger themes in the mix. He has the ability, even while sprouting difficult to understand lines made up of a fractured and combined Slavic and Cockney slang (dialect coach: Stephen Gabis), to give us a vantage point to understand the bigger components that Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel was trying to comment on: psychiatry, juvenile delinquency, antisocial behavior treatments, youth gangs, and other social and political statements. (for the full review, click here)
Posted on September 25, 2017