You won’t find a fitter, tighter, more fat-free group of actors than the one in Off-Broadway’s jacked-up “A Clockwork Orange.”
Too bad this striking and elaborately choreographed show’s grip isn’t half as taut. For all of the in-your-face six-packs, the production is like a dad bod. Stylish, sure. Intimidating, not so much. And it should be.
The story of a British society oozing with violence, alienation and authoritarianism will be familiar if you’ve read the 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess, who’s credited with this adaptation. Or, for that matter, if you’ve seen the 1971 Stanley Kubrick movie.
The action follows a gang of teenaged goons — actually, droogs — led by Alex deLarge (subtle, it’s not), who thrives on aggression and Beethoven.
Part of Alex’s aversion-therapy cure involves enduring horrific imagery he can’t look away from.
(Caitlin McNaney/Caitlin McNaney)
That changes after he lands in prison, where he becomes patient zero for government-sanctioned aversion therapy. Alex gets turned into a mechanized automaton. Is that progress?
Reprising his role from runs in London and beyond, Jonno Davies leads the hard-working ensemble and brings a fierce physical presence as Alex.
At its best, Alexandra Spender-Jones’s all-male vision has energy to burn as it plays out on a spare black stage to a loud, nearly wall-to-wall score of original music and pop covers.
Frequent dance breaks squeeze their way into the Off-Broadway production of “A Clockwork Orange.”
But so much emphasis on choreographed movement backfires as it gets repetitive and muddies storytelling. Even violent acts, like one with a broken bottle, emerge like something out of Looney Tunes. In the end, Burgess’ dark dystopia gets squeezed out into a pulpy “So You Think You Can Menace?”
“A Clockwork Orange” runs through Jan. 6 at New World Stages.