Wednesday 4 April 2012
Theatre review: A Clockwork Orange
Famous for its dystopian ultraviolence, Burgess' use of an invented teen dialect is as much of a feature, and the adaptation doesn't get off to the best start as the actors bark the aggressive patois, and I got the impression we were in for another group of people who think shouting = acting. The storytelling does eventually improve and the slang gets easier to understand as we follow Alex's violent adventures, culminating in his being arrested for murder, brainwashed, and released back into a society he's no longer equipped to survive.
The production is busy and full of ideas, and Andy liked the show. For me though there was, from the start, an unfortunate air of drama school about the whole thing. Although I didn't go to drama school myself, my university drama course had a major practical element, so a lot of acting exercises are familiar to me, and an awful lot of them seemed to crop up in this Clockwork Orange. There's a feeling of the cast ticking off everything they've ever learned (even the dreaded "fall and I'll catch you" trust exercise gets a look-in) and the actors showing off their particular little skills, rather than using them to tell the story. And I'm afraid that for big chunks of the show I was just bored. There's definitely signs of real talent in there as well - I thought Moran showed some real ability in among the showboating, though Phillips and Rayner I found painfully over-earnest. (Again, Andy and I disagreed, he was unconvinced by Moran but particularly liked Phillips; though he did admit it might just be because he enjoys hearing people swear in a Scottish accent.)
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is booking until the 21st of April at the Arcola Theatre's Studio 1.
Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes straight through.