Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Clockwork Orange"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Carl A. Rossi


by Anthony Burgess, adapted from his novel
directed by Shawn LaCount and Mark Abby VanDerzee

Alex … Raymond Ramirez
Billboy’s Droog #1, Policeman #2; Joe; JoJohn; Len … Walter Belenky
Waitress; Old Lady; Governor; Mother … Linda Carmichael
Alexander … Tony Dangerfield
Book Man; Father; Warden; Other Doctor … Peter Darrigo
Chaplain … Brian C. Fahey
Billyboy; Policeman #1; The Doctor; Rubenstein … Seth Holbrook
Dim; Dolin; Minister’s Aide … Ed Hoopman
Pete; Big Jew; Comedian … James Milord
Billyboy’s Girl; Singing Devotchka; Branom; Dancing Girl; Marty … Joyeux Noël
Billyboy’s Droog #2; Policeman #3; Zophar; Rick … Mike Premo
Old Drunk; Deltoid; Minister … Brian Quint
Billyboy’s Droog #3; Brodsky; Bully … Mason Sand
Devotchka; Mrs. Alexander; Nurse; Neighbor; Georgina … Claire Shinkman
Georgie; Pedofil; Lab Assistant … Kristian Williams

A Boston newspaper has given as good a thrashing to Company One’s production of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE as its anti-hero, Alex, and his droogs give to their random victims; I attended a performance --- the house being packed with twenty-somethings --- and rather liked it, myself (I had read Anthony Burgess’ prophetic novel and seen Stanley Kubrick’s celebrated film well before this audience’s birth-time). Even with Mr. Burgess dramatizing his own book, you mustn’t expect anything remotely resembling Mr. Kubrick’s film with its purely cinematic impact --- this is a stage-bound work, now, i.e. the flesh-and-blood before you cannot be whisked away by some editor’s hand and now must fake the violence; under Shawn LaCount and Mark Abby VanDerzee’s direction, the ensemble, mostly twenty-somethings, themselves, are hard pressed into dazzling us with their youth and energy; as these young people have little stage technique, their results are noisy and obvious, instead, and I was amused at their attempts to shock us with what once was shockable (over thirty years ago) and has been surpassed by far more violent entertainments, since. (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE as nostalgia --- who'd have thought it?) Still, Messrs. LaCount and VanDerzee provide much imaginative staging and the Company’s production does have the crude, heady fascination of a day-glo poster in a dark alley, and I enjoyed its bitter, metallic taste that never once turned sweet or creamy; I haven’t a clue as to where this ORANGE has been planted (the accents takes a thrashing, as well), but its look and feel is rathskeller-European as was New Rep’s recent production of THE THREEPENNY OPERA.

Whenever a stage performance competes with a filmed one, the latter usually wins: it is fixed for prosperity for all to see and compare and, if it is a good one, definitive. Those familiar with the Kubrick film will recall the sly Shakespearean malevolence that Malcolm McDowell brought to the role of Alex; Raymond Ramirez, the Company’s lead, has a cherub face and a dance-club body and nearly strangles when bawling out his lines but as he is onstage for most of the evening, Mr. Ramirez’ portrayal counts as a physical accomplishment if not an artistic one. Brian Quint makes properly stylized cartoons out of his various roles, and Linda Carmichael strikes the one sympathetic note as Alex’s cowed, bewildered mother. The evening ends not with Alex’s ironic “I was cured, all right” but on an unexpected upswing; I read afterwards this ending was the final chapter of the British edition but dropped for American publication --- it’s the only part of the evening that drags and Mr. Kubrick was wise to ban it from his film.
If Joshua Dreyfus, the Video Director, put together the amazing MTV montage by which Alex is brainwashed, he deserves his own round of applause --- it’s a stunner; the advertised music of The Dresden Dolls is not performed live but, rather, piped in through the intercom --- to echo my generation’s parents, it’s all noise to me.


"A Clockwork Orange" (22 July-14 August)
Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 426-2787

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide