After being recited the HUGE list of censored material which we were about to witness before last night’s Dramasoc production of A Clockwork Orange, I have to admit that I was feeling rather apprehensive about entering the Dramabarn. As we walked through into the darkness, a slightly creepy version of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played across a bleak and eerie barn which had been converted into a shadowy den, a remarkable transformation of the space.
We were thrown straight into a violent and brutal gang scene, which grabbed the audience instantly. From the outset, not knowing where to look or who to focus on created the illusion of the wild and vicious underground world in which these gangs thrive. Elvie Broom should be praised here for her portrayal of an unnervingly psychotic character. The stage combat, which can often come across in performances as sloppy if under rehearsed, was clean and very well executed by all of the actors. Alex (Jason Ryall) a particularly commendable lead, presented a terrifying and sinister role but seemed to almost represent the darkest side of our very selves. Throughout the plotline we witness Ryall’s outstanding characterisation as we follow him through his prison sentence and his life beyond this. Alex’s extremely violent youth and the particularly disturbing reformation process which is enforced onto him by the authorities is integral to this gripping plot. Dealing with sensitive subjects, the play maintained the perfect balance of intensity with occasional hints of very dark, uneasy humour pervading through.
Despite the small cast, each character was extremely well distinguished, with many actors playing multiple roles with effortless fluidity. This was especially notable in the performances of Sam Hill, James Elser and Saffia Sage. On top of this, it was evident that the staging of each scene had been given a huge amount of consideration and some of the more artistic scenes were very well directed and exceptionally thought provoking. As we sat on either side of the barn, in a round, the action was directed at both sides of the room, engaging the audience from all angles – wherever you sat, you still got the full experience!
The production crew have clearly worked very hard to create the show’s seamless stream of special effects, including videos, lighting and a smoke machine which filled the room with a continuous eerie fog; perfect for the setting. I was especially impressed with the reel of graphic videos which were played over parts of ultra-violence or of a very disturbing nature, a clever way of combating the trickier scenes in the play. Music is also crucial to the plot, which is very well integrated into the performance.
As a whole, the play is a thrilling experience. This cold, dystopia is one deeply troubling and leaves you with a multitude of disconcerted questions about the violence of human nature. I left the barn thankful that my heart could finally stop racing, but feeling the urge to see even more. Alex evokes a lot of sympathy for himself in the second half of the play, making us question the violence of not just the gangs but also of our own authorities, and of ourselves. This play is absolutely not worth missing, and if you haven’t got your ticket already, I urge you to buy one!