Like Anthony Burgess’ dystopian novel from which it was adapted, Scena’s musical rendition of A Clockwork Orange is ambitious. And like the Stanley Kubrick film, it relies on the prowess of Alex (Chris Stinson) to drive the evil ultraviolence, witty banter, and constant action.
With his passionate charisma and dominance of the stage, Alex leads the show, offering a curious take on the nature of free will, as well as posing a number of questions on whether evil can be cured and whether the decision to choose between right and wrong is controllable. The play adheres to Burgess’ reformatted adaptation of the text for the stage, with its singing and dancing, and fully captures the varied “nasdat” slang that Burgess invented.
Fans of either the novel or the film should come out for this inspired show, which doesn’t rely on the same shock value to hold the audience’s attention, and instead focuses more on the themes of recovery and juvenile delinquency, and whether anyone can be “cured” of his free will. However, there are a few disturbing scenes, and this is not a family-friendly play.
The majority of the play focuses on Alex’s transformation from violent gang leader and mischievous deviant through his eventual imprisonment and then release. After undergoing the controversial and experimental behavior-modification treatment, called the Ludovico Technique, Alex gets sick while watching graphically violent films, and becomes unable to listen to his beloved classical music. But the ending of the play includes an interesting twist on the final, omitted chapter from the American novel and offers its own commentary on the ways in which government’s attempt to control violence only makes the situation worse.
… evil ultraviolence, witty banter, and constant action.
The bare set design by Michael C. Stepowany, with the looming eye-shaped light in the background, also forces the audience’s focus squarely on the actors and their contortions, which is considerable since many of the same actors play various roles.
The chaplain (Michael Miyazaki) offers some much-needed comic relief with his songs, while Deltoid (Theo Hadjimichael) captures the creepy, almost backward ways of the correction officer tasked with following Alex.
Running Time: 2 hours with an intermission
Advisory: Mature Themes and Language.
Directed by Robert McNamara, A Clockwork Orange plays through November 18 at H St. Playhouse, 1365 H St., NE. The play runs Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM. Tickets can be purchased by calling 703-683-2824 or by clicking here.