A Clockwork Orange

“Are you apprehensive?” S asked. 

“No,” I answered. “Just very… aware.” 


A Clockwork Orange was not as enjoyable as I hoped it would be.

In the novel, Nadsat was a philological genius: inter alia, it masterfully demonstrated that connotative abstraction without denotative specification was sufficient for reader comprehension. But as a spoken argot (coupled with thick Western slang), Nadsat obscured our understanding, and accordingly, our enjoyment of the play.

Another selling point that did not really quite work out was the “ultra-violence”. For clear practical reasons, the cast’s violence towards one another was wholly muted. While this is a limitation more in medium than in method, I found myself unable to suspend my disbelief in such artificial aggression when the same is such a compelling theme in the novel. I imagine Stanley Kubrick’s film (which was only recently un-banned and which I hope to watch really soon) dealt much more effectively with this theme. (Violence is, after all, a hallmark of films aimed at entertainment.)

Perhaps the lack of aggression could have been or was meant to be placated by physicality. In this regard, the all-male cast spared no expense of energy. At one point, with techno music playing concurrently with Beethoven, and the rest of the cast frantically running and/or dancing around, the lead actor was downstage just doing flying superman pushups. Intense. Sadly, through no fault of the production, we (or at least I) could not feel their exuberance. We were simply sitting too far away at the circle seats for the energy to reach us.

Nevertheless, no one can deny that Action to the Word’s production is a great adaption in its own right. As the droogs would put it: still a real horror show.

A Clockwork Orange - Soho Theatre


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About Mel

I dreamt I was a whale. https://melvynfoo.wordpress.com/about-mel/