What happens when students (and may I add, talented ones at that) come together to enact an old school, violent, sexual, musical journey? An interesting take on the original text of A Clockwork Orange is what.
Directors Shevvi Barrett-Brown and Bianca Farmakis transpose Clockwork into the crammed and suffocating Cellar Theatre — an apt location for the twist-packed, yet concise reenactment of Burgess’ brain child.
We begin this journey by witnessing Josh Wooller’s 15-year-old Alex De Large indulging in underage debauchery with his “three droogs”. This debauchery is violent. It’s illegal, and it’s burdensome on the rest of society. The authorities take action, jailing an increasingly frustrated Alex for two years. He is subjected to the now-famous (or notorious, rather) Ludovico technique, conditioning him to rid all evil from his body. Wooller makes for an excellent Alex whose struggle with power — with his friends, and with higher forces — is played with all the intensity of a method actor.
Casting in this play is top notch. Alex’s friends — with Tim McNaught as Dim, Amber Cunneen as Georgie, and Henry Hulme as Pete — complement the other characters rather well. Harriet Cromley is perfect as a personification of the first person narration within Burgess’ novel, appearing at just the right times to aid the audience’s understanding of such a complex play.
But perhaps it’s the subversive attitude displayed towards traditional gender roles where I give my highest compliments, with Helena Parker and Lauren Gale in the shoes of the Minister and the Governor respectively — both originally male characters. They provide this enactment with just the edge it needs over the outdated script.
Farmakis and Barrett-Brown’s Clockwork is also filled with pop-cultural references via song and costume that are satisfying, and bring the play into a more contemporary context. I’m a sucker for the classics, but still appreciated these references, and the way they delivered crucial points to the audience — with the occasional instance of hilarity.
Rife with psychological tensions, and abound with personalities swinging wildly between primal and societal instincts, A Clockwork Orange is unashamed and no-holds-barred. If you’re a fan of the classic, it’ll be sure to refresh your perspective on Burgess’ text. If not, you’ll still enjoy this version’s boldness.