Review: A Clockwork Orange

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Stanley Kubrick’s iconic pop cult film has set the bar, making it an almost impossible challenge for anyone to reinvent and surpass the dystopian hive the white clad droogs envisioned in 1971. Director Alexandra Spencer-Jones proves otherwise with an all-male cast in Action to the Word’s rendition of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. Based on Burgess’ play text, the production we see on the opening night of November 6 at the HKAPA is a sizzling power play; the physically intense fight scenes combine ballet and battle with graceful brutality. Notably in the Billy Boy Ballet, choreographed by Hannah Lee, we see the complete ensemble spinning, punching, kicking, dodging and diving in cohesive chaos.

The minimalist setup, props and costumes leave the actors to carry the weight of the production, but they do this will skillful dexterity. All of the cast besides Alex DeLarge (Adam Search) share between themselves 70-plus roles. Their transformations are a wonder to watch as some go from male to female, young to old and more. It’s hard to believe there are only 10 actors when each different character is embodied with such differentiation. Search is captivating as the anti-hero. His closing monologue leaves us shivering. There’s no catharsis for the audience as we’re left with a bittersweet and disturbing aftertaste, having basically sympathised with a psychopath for 90 minutes. The casts’ vivid aggression, passion and youthful vigour catapult the play forward at roller-coaster speed, accompanied by an eclectic soundtrack (including Gossip and Placebo) that complements and elevates the action. The scenes segue with physical sequences that seamlessly intertwine sections with stunning fluidity.

It’s advised to have some knowledge of the novella and the film if you’re to fully understand the emphasised exploration of power: a contextual factor that left some audiences a little lost. The homoerotic façade can distract but, past it, the play justly translates the war of the damned between Alex and his terrible crimes and vile felonies of the dictatorship that forces ethic norms upon him. The stage is an exhilarating, testosterone-filled melting pot loitered with sweat, shattered milk bottles and sputter.

Action to the Word’s horror show hits with a powerful tolchoking. O my brothers, to it we raise a glass of moloko. Jenny Wong

A Clockwork Orange 
HKAPA, until Nov 10. Tickets: $695-$265; hkticketing.com.

 

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