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Shocking Theatre needs substance & style: this Clockwork Orange has it all

Having seen the likes of Shopping and Fucking, Angels in America,The Blue Room and many other plays that shock, Glenn Meads looks at what makes the latest adaptation of A Clockwork Orange stand out

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A Clockwork Orange
Action to the Word

There's nothing like a genuine shock, when you are watching a piece of theatre. Think of a time when you have been gobsmacked not only by controversy but also by style and emotion.

Angels in America delivers in so many ways, as does Frantic Assembly's Hymns. The shock for me here was how emotional I became before the end.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake does it for me also, as it takes something very traditional and turns it on its head, and for many has seen them revisit ballet many times over.

But the latest adaptation of A Clockwork Orange by Action to the Word does everything you want and more. By having an all male cast, the homo-eroticism is not only explored - it's poignantly done.

Combine this with Hannah Lee's stunning choreography and you have dynamite on stage. The music is ingeniously interwoven also - with Duran Duran, Placebo, Scissor Sisters and Eurythmics used to stunning effect.

The joy of this breathtaking production is that the narrative does continue to shock thanks to Anthony Burgess' original source material.

But what Action to the Word manage to do is pay homage to the film and book, while not slavishly repeating either of them.

I attended the Lowry yesterday night and was reminded that shocking theatre needn't reply on cheap thrills (like Sheila Hancock saying the 'C' word). When it's as well performed and produced as this, the shock value can come from witnessing how bloody good it is.

Get to the Lowry now, if you haven't seen A Clockwork Orange. It is blindingly good.

A Clockwork Orange is at the Lowry until Sat, 26 October