A Clockwork Orange

Action To The Word’s take on Anthony Burgess' classic is a homoerotic visceral explosion, but this Clockwork Orange is too knowing to be real horrorshow.

★★★
theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 07 Aug 2011
33328 large
102793 original

Action to the Word’s sweaty and glistening A Clockwork Orange has all the components of an archetypal hit Edinburgh show: slick movement sequences, gorgeous performers, a stonking soundtrack and a charismatic lead. But whilst audiences are sure to come flocking, one question still arises: is there anything more to this production than being a poor man’s version of Matthew Bourne’s A Clockwork Orange?

Anthony Burgess’ infamous tale of Alex and his Droogs is one that has been marked by many a problematic adaptation. It is always a dangerous thing to take on a classic and Burgess’ rich text is perhaps more of a challenge than most.

Superficially, director Alexandra Spencer-Jones has made the appearance of striding into this thorny territory bravely. There is plenty of action to be devoured here, solid tableaux and fight scenes are mingled with comedy cameos and some nicely textured delivery of Burgess’ delicious linguistic creation Nadsat. As the viciousness that shines from Alex’s eyes flashes within the Minister of Interior's (all that separates them is a tie it seems), Spencer-Jones powerfully communicates Burgess’ commentary on the endemic nature of violence in our society.

But it soon becomes clear that claims of reworking this literary classic for a new generation simply boil down to a contemporary score and a rather incongruous dollop of homo-eroticism. Too often the movement feels flashy, the campness affected and if there is an excuse to get these toned boys topless, a savvy Spencer-Jones takes it. Ultimately this Clockwork Orange runs too mechanically to be real horror show.