(2 / 5)
Unless you have lived under a rock, everyone knows A Clockwork Orange, written by Anthony Burgess and hitting our screens in a feature film in 1971.
The story features violence, rape, theft and a utopian type existence where everyone fears the youth gangs swarming the streets and committing such atrocities. Eventually this becomes too much and ring leader, Alex, is imprisoned for two years until being chosen for an experiment meant to “cure” him.
Not only have I seen the film, but countless stage performances; this story lends itself to easily be customised – a directors heaven in producing their own take on the story.
This time around, the show has been taken on by Exeter University’s Theatre society. They make great headway with staging – with high level stage and props to use, they enable the time period to be stretched and changed, adding to this concept of a utopian world. The costuming is in addition to this; complimenting the time period the story comes from (70’s), again there is creativity with time periods and a huge sense of different empowerment with the use of army uniforms. This story is a fearful one, which we have come close to with societal atrocities spanning across our country, therefore not placing this anywhere specific in time or location makes this relateable to our fears for the future.
The performances themselves were ranging in quality. Thinking of a University Society, it’s understandable and expected that there would be a element of different levels of skill. However you cannot say that no one was not fully in their performance, and all in all showed great professionalism.
My issues with the performance was it felt as if there was a struggle to cut down content and the second half felt rather long. This is a common mistake when starting to bring page to stage and something that can only be enhanced but which most practitioners have fallen to once or twice.
There was an obvious need to try and shock us – rape scenes, nudity, false blood etc. Now I love performances that do this – devised performances that create a sense of surprise and in a taboo fashion is great but difficult with a well renowned story that is known for its taboo content. I only think that to keep the audience, the company should have taken the advice of less is certainly more.
Finally, the performers added a new element to this show – musical numbers. While I commend this bold move, it did not feel as if it worked – a more violent and sweary West Side Story comes to mind. Somehow this did not gel with the production but was a commendable move.
All in all this production of A Clockwork Orange was an interesting take on the original story – paying homage to the main themes of a possible future existence in our society, along with a nod to the original book and film’s time period, the company did well to produce something new yet still recognisable, throwing their all into their characters and doing this with no fear.