I was thrilled to have the privilege of experiencing Tin Robot Theatre’s production of A Clockwork Orange this evening, in conjunction with The Old Joint Stock Theatre. I use the word ‘experiencing’ with emphasis, as the show was advertised as ‘immersive’ - this performance certainly did not disappoint.
A Clockwork Orange, first published in 1962 by Anthony Burgess, is an iconic novel that deals with themes of violence and suppression in a dystopian society. The novel was later adapted for the stage and has remained a growing and changing entity, with Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation becoming a revered piece of cinema. With such controversial material at hand, I was intrigued to see how this would be presented in the show.
From the moment the audience steps into the theatre, they enter into the world of the play; they must shed their coats and become ‘players’ alike to the cast, who move and perform among the arriving audience. Throughout the show, the audience are regularly greeted up close by the six members of the cast within the clinically decorated black-box studio, which acts as the perfect canvas for this style of performance. The setting is exceptional: the combination of sound and lighting creates a detached and unfamiliar theatre environment. This audience are in no way there for passive viewing.
The Artaudian nature of the performance is explicit; the performers push their physical boundaries (notably, the exceptionally talented Jacob Lovick and Joel Heritage) which drop the audience into a space of insecurity, where they are forced to be a part of every moment. It was great to see every spectator, in some way, contributing to the progression of the story. The actors play a variety of roles which they opt-into in a computer game style format. This highlights how violence can be easily explored in modern games, making this production very relevant in today's society.
The character of Alex is shared amongst all six performers and they each apply their own unique style to the role. Touwa Craig-Dunn’s depiction is of a confident and frantic Alex, whilst Grace Hussey-Burd plays him with a subdued yet sinister narcissism. The balance between the comedy and moments of discomfort were finely crafted - entertaining, engaging, whilst provoking deep thought. Catherine Butler is unrecognisable from one character to the next – she is a chameleon on stage and hugely entertaining. The same can be said for Jack Robertson who committed to the role of Dim right from the start, even whilst working in the box office - a nice touch. This is a tremendously strong cast who clearly have a lot of dedication and passion for their work.
I was truly impressed with Director Adam Carver’s innovative treatment and design of the space. The floor markings, which could have been easily overlooked during the busy start of the show, later became a kind of map of the violent events taking place. Similarly, the yummy sweets offered, began to taste more nauseating as the events unfolded. These intricate touches helped to make this show a work of art, a show which I will not forget for a long time.
In summary, this really was a ‘horrorshow’, but for all the right reasons - gritty, real, daring theatre that doesn’t hold back. I will be keeping a close eye on Tin Robot Company’s upcoming productions from now on.
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