A Clockwork Orange


Lighthouse, Poole - 23-25th May, 2013

It is more than half a century since Anthony Burgess spent three frenzied weeks writing his famous dystopian novella and it’s  even 40 plus years since Stanley Kubrick turned Burgess’s bleak tale of gangs, youth violence and corruption into the most controversial film of the late 20th century.

Indeed A Clockwork Orange is still the only movie that can boast that it was banned by its own director for nearly 30 years because he was so concerned about the effect its content would have on copycat delinquents.

Sadly A Clockwork Orange still resonates with meaning for a contemporary audience who instantly recognise the menace in the psychopathic young anti-hero Alex and his gang of thugs who, high on boredom and drugs, dispense terror and sickening violence on the streets.

Though it has been produced as a stage drama on many occasions, A Clockwork Orange has often proved a difficult  play to pull off. This production, directed by Alexandra Spencer-Jones, strips the story back to its essence and with pulsing music, dramatic choreography and an all-male cast, creates a powerful and intriguingly homoerotic drama.

Set against a sparse set, it explores the world of tribal gangs speaking their own coded language. More importantly it focuses on the alpha-male - highly intelligent, dangerously disaffected and completely amoral - who leads them and the authorities who try to break him by any means possible.

Adam Search is compelling as the swaggering, Beethoven-loving, knife-wielding Alex. A teenage killer who rages at society full of seemingly unstoppable anger, Alex is a  text-book psycho and a perfect guinea-pig for a repellant aversion cure backed by the government as a means of emptying the prisons.

Inevitably perhaps the previously untested “cure” has unexpected repercussions and, though Alex is psychologically ‘disarmed’, his free-will has been fatally compromised.

A Clockwork Orange projects a dark view of an uncertain future - a constant for British society for decades. Spencer-Jones makes it clear that nothing much is likely to change. As the play draws to a close we see the next generation of gang members psyching themselves up to “do” someone out on the streets. The cycle of violence continues.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2021