This week audiences at Curve Leicester have been treated to A Clockwork Orange, staged by students from De Montfort University.
A Clockwork Orange, originally penned by Anthony Burgess, is a dystopian masterpiece set at a time when extreme violence and hatred among the youth subculture is rife and a totalitarian, repressive super-state presides. The story addresses key issues including good vs. evil and “goodness vs. the choice of goodness.”
DMU students did themselves proud in this production and it was often very easy to forget that these aren’t professional actors (yet). In today’s political climate, it felt particularly poignant to see this work of art performed by the demographic that it depicts rather than an older cast, as is often the case.
There were one or two members of the cast that I felt were slightly weaker in their acting abilities than the principle characters, as can be expected, but all in all the acting ability was of a really high standard. Two actors, in particular, shone. Chris Roberts (Alex) did a fantastic job and had palpable stage presence as he governed the stage. Chelsea Leggatt (Minister of Interior) also was menacing in her interpretation and very believable in the role.
The staging of this production is incredibly interesting and I really enjoyed the concept. However, some of the practicalities didn’t quite work out (in my opinion) and made for some slightly frustrating viewing.
Upon entering the auditorium, audience members are given headsets and told to stand anywhere they like as the show is to be performed in promenade. It is immediately apparent, at this point, that you are about to embark on an experience rather than your average play. As someone who is lucky enough to go to the theatre a lot – it is always refreshing when a production thinks outside the box and doesn’t just follow suit. When done right, promenade staging can be a fantastic way to break down barriers between actors and audiences whilst perfectly setting audience members on edge. One example is the moment when Alex and his gang viciously beat up their victims whilst other members of the cast picked audience members out to waltz around the auditorium with.
However, as it was a lengthy production with no interval, I have to say that after a while it got slightly frustrating having to move around all the time as the action unfolds around you. This very teeny tiny reviewer was often left at the back, unable to see anything! I wonder if it would have been more beneficial to have audience members gathered semi-statically around the perimeter of the auditorium – as I have seen executed brilliantly in other productions performed in promenade. My second slight grievance was that the headsets gave off a lot of interference during the last half an hour and I found that I was spending more time during the final moments wondering what audience members were actually gaining from the headphones rather than paying attention to the actors.
All in all, however, these two small niggles certainly do not take away from the fact that this is a production I believe Anthony Burgess would be proud of. It was thoughtful, often chilling and a fantastic retelling of a cult classic.
Reviewed by Rosie Bambury