Playing at the Camden People’s Theatre, before their run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Action to the Word theatre company bring to the stage Anthony Burgess’ classic dystopian story A Clockwork Orange. In this unique and vivid portrayal of the story, with an all male cast, we see Alexander “Alex” DeLarge and his fellow “droogs” battle against the tedium of looming adolescence.

The production explores the horrific elements of Burgess’ writing and, in the creed of the companies’ name, does indeed bring action to the production. Whilst the depiction of violence within the story remains, the threat feels removed due to the lack of female actors. This is, however, a double-edged sword, as in turn it allows the audience to be completely captivated through Martin McCreadie’s phenomenal portrayal of our dark hero Alex. His acting demonstrates a deep understanding of the character, bringing a boyishly dark and unnerving realism to the play.  

…haunting mash-ups of Beethoven with modern music…

Director Alexandra Spencer-Jones explains that “it is a play about boy’s behaviour”, which heightens the focus of the charismatic and indeed vain lifestyle of the protagonist. McCreadie brings a sharp and sophisticated performance to the production, and fully incorporates Spencer-Jones’ vision in this celebration of acting, music and physicality.

Summoning all elements at her disposal, Spencer-Jones uses physical theatre, combined with haunting mash-ups of Beethoven with modern music – tying the piece inextricably to modern day and fully ingratiating her audience into Alex’s world. The fight sequences are transformed into passionate dances that create an evocative juxtaposition with what is taking place.

 “It is quite Shakespearean … a unique text becoming physical work”

Spencer-Jones cites her passion for Shakespeare as a primary motivation for choosing A Clockwork Orange to be part of her seasons set. “It is quite Shakespearean” explains Spencer-Jones, commenting on the parable like qualities of the narrative and going on to say how her production is “a unique text becoming physical work”, incorporating the use of traditional Shakespearean values.

A thoroughly enjoyable production, I would recommend any fan of violence, Shakespeare, Burgess, physical theatre or passing social commentary to see this production. So go along brothers and sisters – to this mess of gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh.

A Clockwork Orange plays at Camden People’s Theatre until 30 July and then 3-29 August at C venues – C, Edinburgh.

Tickets in London: £12/10; Edinburgh: £9.50/7.50

Images courtesy of Action to the Word


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