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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me @markffisher and @writeabouttheat I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012 and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers published in July 2015. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Clockwork Orange, theatre review

Published in The Guardian

A Clockwork Orange

Citizens, Glasgow
3 out of 5

In his swansong production as artistic director of the Citz, Jeremy Raison goes to some efforts to give Anthony Burgess's tale a modern-day spin. He stages it on Jason Southgate's set, a striking concrete and aluminium structure that suggests the most soulless 21st-century car parks, apartments and wine bars. As if to comment on the state of our nations, he casts actors from London, Manchester, Liverpool, Dublin and Glasgow. And, at the height of Alex's Pavlovian brainwashing, the doctor's litany of state-sanctioned violence includes a reference to Guantánamo.

But it doesn't quite ring true as a play for today. A naive older generation, an unaccountable medical profession and controlling state are not without their present-day parallels, but it says more about the mods-and-rockers era of post-50s social change when the story was written than about today. It's hard to see Jay Taylor's Alex as a figure of satire or subversion when he could be another media-sanctioned rebel in the mould of Pete Doherty.

And, although their fruity Nadsat slang gives the play a Jacobean flourish, Alex and his droogs have all the menace of a gang of Russell Brands. With their mix-and-match costumes and cartoon grins, they make unconvincing thugs who never seem equal to their acts of violence. Alex's lawlessness should fascinate and appal in equal measure, so when, in the second act, he is turned into a neutered shell, we should find ourselves mourning his anarchic spirit in spite of the cruelty that come with it. But it is hard to feel bothered about the loss of this angry young man.

Still, it is all put together with a lively theatrical eye, a disregard for Kubrick iconography and, in the hospital scenes, a suitably dystopian chill.

Until 6 November. Box office: 0141-429 0022.
© Mark Fisher 2010

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