Set in a dystopian future, A Clockwork Orange tells the story – complete with its own slang – of a teenage boy, Alex, his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him. The novel, written in 1962 by Anthony Burgess, was made into a film in 1971 by Stanley Kubrick, and now theatre company Action To The Word’s award-winning all-male production arrives in North London’s Park Theatre. We spoke to lead actor Jonno Davies ahead of this electrifying production.
There’ll be a lot of younger readers that haven’t heard of the story – how would you describe the story and the production you star in?
It’s a 90-minute testosterone-based excursion into a world of brutality and sexuality for main character Alex DeLarge and his droogs, or friends, as they battle their way through adolescence.
How did you feel after you first watched the film?
It’s great. Obviously it’s great otherwise we wouldn’t still be talking about it after all these years. But what the hell was that ending all about? Cop out! Oh and Kubrick cast some real horror show groodies.
How is this production different to the film?
Our adaptation is a much closer representation of the book than the film. In terms of style and form, the biggest differences are probably the all-male cast and the multi-roling, with the other eight actors playing over 40 different characters between them.
How do these elements change the dynamics of the storyline?
The all-male cast really bolsters the exploration of masculinity in the piece; something that I believe is pivotal in Alex’s journey within the story. The multi-roling creates some real grazhny, larger-than-life characters, which in turn encourages the audience to see life through Alex’s eyes, which is a real dangerous but fun place to be.
The lead in the film, Malcolm McDowell, created an iconic character in Alex DeLarge – what influence did his performance have on your performance?
I purposely didn’t watch the film for the first two years of playing Alex as I didn’t want Mr McDowell’s performance to subliminally influence mine. His portrayal was supreme but I wanted to create my own ideas sparked from the book and conversations with Alexandra Spencer Jones, our director.
As an actor, what challenges have you faced with this role and how have your overcome them?
The show is both physically and vocally exhausting due to its adrenaline-fuelled dynamics and constant gear six; it’s an Action To The Word show, what else would you expect? We make a constant effort as a company to complete intense morning circuit workouts to help increase our stamina for the show so that the ultra-violence never dwindles. Switching off from DeLarge’s psyche also takes its time, making sweet sleeps not the easiest thing to achieve.
The book and the film are both frightening and disturbing visions of an alternative future – why do you think the story has continued relevance today?
There has always and always will be a fight between the generations; blaming the societal problems of today on each other. A Clockwork Orange treads very carefully along the line of reason, showing just how far humanity can go when it’s desperate for change. To the point where we’re forced to place our faith and future – rightly or wrongly, it doesn’t really matter – into the hands of the psychotic. This transcends all the way from the alleys of Salford to the white house(s) of Washington.
Finally, why should people come and see the show?
No other show in London will have you tapping your feet and singing along whilst watching an old and fragile woman be beaten to death. Come and give your moral compass a spin whilst viddying some real horror show physical theatre that’ll leave you gagging for a pint of the old Moloko. With a drop of vellocet, of course.