Performances and pace let down Jeremy Raison’s production of A Clockwork Orange (2 stars)

Largely unnecessary adaptation despite creating distinctive vision

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Performances and pace let down Jeremy Raison’s production of A Clockwork Orange

Jeremy Raison’s production of Anthony Burgess’s satirical fable about youthful gang violence and freedom of choice was always going to have to work hard to distance itself from the iconic source novel, not to mention Stanley Kubrick’s notorious film adaptation. In terms of its look and overall tone, Raison largely succeeds in creating a distinctive vision of the parallel reality in which teenage thugs drink ‘milk plus’, indulge in lashings of ultraviolence and talk in corrupted Russian. Jason Southgate’s sparse, industrial set, and the discomfiting soundscape underlines the sense of urban decay at the heart of the story, where Kubrick opted for a breakneck pace and a series of shocking but ultimately rather empty set pieces.

Where the production falls down is largely down to the adaptation, which features several passages of needless exposition, where the central freedom-versus-choice dichotomy comes across loud and clear from the arc of the narrative. As a result, the story drags when it should have an electrifying urgency, a problem that is further compounded by the performances. While Jay Taylor brings charisma and a certain vulnerability to the central role of Alex, the supporting cast, playing numerous minor parts, struggle to create distinctive characters and often resort to mugging and silly accents.

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 6 Nov

A Clockwork Orange

  • 2 stars

A stage version of Anthony Burgess' horrifyingly violent fable of law and disorder, in which the ultra-violence of intellectual thug Alex and his gang of 'droogs' is punished by a state at least as cruel as the youths themselves. Recommended for ages 15+.

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