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Clockwork Orange will make you tick

DREAM TEAM: (L-R) Darren Hart, Raphael Sowole, Ashley Hunter and Sonny Muslim. Muslim was replaced by Jack Shalloo due to a knee injury

THE NEW musical A Clockwork Orange, breathed beautiful new life into Anthony Burgess’s cult novel of the same name.

As the ultra-violent dystopian society exploded onto the stage with a black protagonist and a musical score consisting of blues, R’n’B, rap and jazz and real guns, I sat and thought to myself that if Burgess was black and of this generation, I imagine this is what he would have envisioned.

Not only was the play, adapted by New Yorkers Ed DuRanté (playwright) and Fred Carl (composer), better than expected, but was expertly intertwined with outstanding performances.

The sadistic delinquent Alex, played by recent graduate Ashley Hunter,21, and his gang of ‘Ninjas’, wreak havoc in their neighborhood, committing armed robberies and mindless acts of violence against defenseless people, but Alex is soon imprisoned for murder.

In prison he is entered into The Technique; a punishing government experiment aimed at ‘curing’ the very worst of offenders and eradicating crime all together. After the treatment he finds himself in an unexpected and life-altering personal horror show, Alex is mentally tortured every time he is drawn into an act involving any emotion. And without emotion he is nothing more that a mere machine.

The performance used an unusual form of choreography and movement when portraying acts of violence, akin to body popping mixed with ballet.

Luckily the audience was sparred cringe worthy moments as there were not any explicit scenes portraying rape. Du Rante and Carl did, however, flip the script and include a track sung by a Buddhist serial killer about being “prison friends with benefits”.

Film buffs will not be able to recognise the infamous imagery of the famous Kubrick film, but there are clearly some illusions to the classic, seen in the costumes.

For an audience that has recently been rocked by riots , the themes of choice - violence and social decline - were very pertinent.

Although I didn’t think it was possible, this play has made a timeless classic more relevant by exploring youth gang culture on stage through music that currently transcends races and social backgrounds, it adds a warmness that was previously lacking in the great work of literature.

It is not a carbon copy of the book or the movie, but in its own special way this play has created a different and very unique addition to the Burgess phenomenon, a very significant piece of theatre that should been seen.

A Clockwork Orange is at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, London E15 from September 3-October 1. For more information, call 020 8534 0310 or visit www.stratfordeast.com

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