Jeremy Raison’s new production of A Clockwork Orange is a timely one. Closely adapted from Anthony Burgess’s controversial 1962 novel, it challenges the dictatorial nature of government, the increasingly antisocial behaviour on our streets and the redemptive power of the arts.
This could be any British city. Raison smartly plays with regionalism and accent, hinting at the endemic nature of social degeneration. Their common language, a Russian-English derivative called nadsat, is immediately bewildering to contemporary audiences but as quickly ingratiating as Shakespearean dialogue.
As manic adolescent Alex, Jay Taylor is thrillingly intense, his charismatic performance filled with a frightening eloquence that draws out the poetry of Burgess’s original text. Emerging onto the stage as a silhouette amidst blasts of music, Taylor’s Alex is the ideal overindulged rocker, spitting in the face of society with a Sex Pistols sneer and military blazer.
Jason Southgate’s design is suitably dystopian, a cleverly constructed frame littered with dustbins and segregated with barbed wire, complimented by Graham Sutherland’s viciously urbanized soundtrack. Carter Ferguson’s choreographed violence is highly stylised, sparing the audience the gratuity which categorised the film without shying from the glamorised barbarism at the story’s core.
Fascinating and frightening, Raison’s production is the highlight of the Citizens season.