The first half of this play is the painful one.
Adrian Yearwood's portrayal of Burgess' faithful narrator
is a harsh, unflinching demonstration of
youthful masculinity in all of its terrible power.
Better still is his tone and posture of bewildered suffering
as the protagonist's trials take him in and out
of jail, and leave him suffering at the hands of
strangers and friends alike.
Directed by Victoria Fuller ,
Echo Production's presentation of A clockwork Orange
is the script written by author Anthony Burgess
in order to redress the shortcomings of Stanley Kubrick's
1971 movie adaptation. The gloss and glamour
of that film, in Burgess' mind, tend to obscure the book's
theme of misguided youth. In the play,
Alex retains even more centrality
than he does as the film's narrator,
and Yearwood shows his range
through the character's journey from
lion to lamb.
The cast of about a dozen work together
to create a plausible balance of characters, many of whom
would sooner crack each other's skulls than peaceably co-exist.
Standouts include an hilariously creepy rendition of Mr Deltoid,
Alex's parole officer, portrayed by Tyler Hagemann,
Jake Fisher's dreamy sense of heartache and loss in his role as a widowed writer,
and the Minister of the interior, falsely grinned to perfection by Anthony Fushell.
Some liberties were taken which allowed the play to feel quite contemporary.
Camp and comedy are employed throughout as an (un)comfortable counterpart to the depravity and violence of the story.
A definate strength of this production,
and a highlight of the experience, is Erin Brookhouse's
highly effective choreography for the play's numerous fight scenes, which
incorporate dance, movement, music and lighting into bravura
feats of ensemble work that are both visceral and beautiful.
Burgess' tale has been brought to the Tarragon theatre stage
in a way that exposes both its relevance and age.
While the violent delinquent type continues to be
both glorified and miscontrued in our culture,
the similarities between the media's
monopolisation of our attention
and the painful 'treatments' to which Alex is subjected
remain a subtext beyond the scope of this script.
Watching the few female members of the cast limited to
portraying mothers, nurses, and objects of sexual desire/violence,
I wonder if only half the story of childhood's end is being told.
Or maybe, as Burgess thought all along,
this is a story about boys,
and about one lost little boy named Alex.
T Babinsky for the Tinderbox