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A Clockwork Orange

© Simon Kate

It's a peculiar achievement of Alexandra Spencer-Jones's raunchy production of Anthony Burgess's play (based on his 1962 novella) that it makes the story rather enjoyable. It's peculiar because ever since Stanley Kubrick's film, the tale of Alex and his gang of droogs on a teenage rampage of rape and 'ultra violence' has been considered a shocking indictment of violence in society.

Spencer-Jones however turns the story into an all-male, homoerotic pageant. If not specifically gay, the actors sporting black vests and tight trousers spend a good deal of time between fist-fights pumping each other off in their pants. And there's more writhing with sweaty bench-press torsos than you'd get from a bag of priapic snakes.

This of course looks great and choreographed fight routines are like 'Swan Lake' meets 'The Matrix'. To go with this there is a score that toys with gay classics such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'Relax', as well as plenty of Alex's beloved Beethoven – some of it set to rock guitar. And when the cops or 'rozzers' show up, it's like the gang getting arrested by The Village People.

But at the centre of the saucy vortex Martin McCreadie makes a vigorous, handsome and charismatic Alex – as mad, bad and dangerous to know as a body-building Ronnie Kray. What is lost, however, in this micro-carnival of penile servitude is the book and film's indictment of the youths' distressing violence against women. Instead Alex and his gang of 'droogs' come across like a troupe of punk ballerinas: great to watch but not especially troublesome.

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4.9 / 5

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LiveReviews|7
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Elya

I really enjoyed show. Also it was amusing how they just demonstrated the whole play with the male characters! It made me laugh from time to time! Worths to see.

Geoff Dolton

She certainly is. Did you see their musical at Edinburgh last year? Beautiful. This production is a remarkable piece of theatre and a testament to the power to good direction and acting. You know what's amazing about this company? They are a success story of the Fringe, developing everything from nothing. What's brilliant is that even at this stage and for the future they will not need anything else because they have that amazing foundation. The new Brook company but better - just tell everybody.

vaness trowbridge

Truly a wonderful performance from a wonderful ensemble. The execution of the fight scenes was a delight to watch. I have followed this company, Action to the Word for a couple of years since seeing their production of Titus Andronicus at the fringe in Edinburgh. The artistic direction is an inspiration and I truly believe that Alexandra Spencer-Jones is a woman to watch.

Mick G

Superb show. The music and props were well chosen, the key players carried enough of a sense of menace to make you believe in them, and the dance routines, though they could have been highly extraneous given the story, only added to the effect - especially the early fight scene. Expertly executed. The camp male and knowingly silly female characters (in this all-male troupe) also raised a laugh. The 'ultraviolence' was certainly hinted at and some scenes were highly suggestive, but this aspect of the story was sensitively portrayed. Quite a difficult balancing act considering the graphic portrayals in the film version. All in all, 2 hours well spent (in a lovely little theatre too!)