Cast | Notes | Pictures | Synopsis - Official | My Summary | My Review
|Eccentric Woman/Georgina||Sarah Cook|
|F. Alexander's Wife/Dr. Branom||Sarah Matthay|
|Singing Woman/Dr. Brodsky||Julie E. Fitzpatrick|
|Bum/F. Alexander||David Bartlett|
|Screaming Woman/Beautiful Girl/Em||Dena Tyler|
Directed by Joe Tantalo
Set and Lighting Design by Maruti Evans
Original Music and Sound Design by Andrew Recinos
Costume Design by Christian Couture
Stage Manager - Jenny Deady
Managing Director for Godlight Theatre Company - Rayna Bourke
Godlight Theatre Company - 1/19/05 - 2/27/05
3rd time they've done the play.
59E59 THEATERS - Theater C,
59 East 59th Street (between Park & Madison Avenues)
New York, NY 10022
75 mins, no intermission
General Admission. NO LATE SEATING!
Adult Themes and partial nudity - May not be suitable for children under the age of 12.
Official site www.59E59.org
Alex on the floor at the start of the show
Alex promo shot
Front of the theater
Alex and his vicious teenage gang revel in horrific violence, mugging and gang rape. Alex also revels in the music of Beethoven. The gang communicates in a language which is as complicated as their actions. When a drug-fuelled night of fun ends in murder, Alex is finally busted and banged up. He is given a choice: be brainwashed into good citizenship and set free, or face a lifetime inside. Anthony Burgess's play, based on his own provocative 1962 novella of the same name, gets a vivid and intense new production from the award winning Godlight Theatre Company.
Alex is laying on the floor with a bust of
Beethoven next to him as the Ninth Symphony plays. He is into the music and acts
like a conductor. Then the lights go out and he gets up and dances with the bust
to a strobe and weird music. Then Alex is sitting a chairs in a corner of the
Korova Milkbar. The only scenery is white and red squared colored lights shining
down on the white floor. Everyone is frozen except for Alex who starts off the
story explaining who he and his droogs are while bathed in bright white light.
When he mentions each name the light shines on them and they make a sound. Alex
is white, short, has dark hair, wears a black shirt and pants and has white
makeup with black bone highlights and black lines on his lips making him look
like a corpse. When he is done with his soliloquy he gets up along with his
droogs and they meet in the center.
A drunk comes into the bar singing nonsense and going around them. When he sings Alex stops. When Alex talks he stops. Then they grab him and beat him on the floor. Right after they come across rival Billboy preparing to rape a young woman who is draped over his shoulder. He smacks her ass and she screams. Alex challenges him and the girl runs off toward them, but Alex and the guys have a bit of fun with her before they let her go. A melee ensues and the droogs fight with Billboy eventually defeating him. Alex pulls Dim off him and reprimands him for being all bloody. They are upset with him for playing leader. He grabs them and says he is the leader. The boys leave and come upon a man and his girlfriend and they begin to harass him. Alex takes his book and mocks it because the title is 'A Clockwork Orange', though he likes the idea the authors' name is the same as his own. He then reads from it as they attack the wife.
Next we see the boys back in the Korova where a devotchka stands in the center of the floor singing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. She is in black with her face painted a bizarre black and white pattern. Alex is in a rapture until Dim laughs, yells and goes up and grabs her. Alex gets mad, jumps up. knees him in the yarbles and he goes down. Dim is furious at him and challenges him to a fight. Alex takes the challenge when suddenly Mrs. Deltoid walks up to Alex. She is wearing all black - a tight top, leather skirt and thigh high boots. She tells Alex he has been to his house and knows he is up to no good being out this late when he was supposed to be sick. Alex is surprised to see her in the milkbar. He says he isn't doing any drugs and forced to kiss her ass and this is quite amusing to his droogs. She says she came out to have a good time, he has come out to destroy. She grabs Alex and gets in his face while Dim stands behind her and simulates sex and Pete gives her the finger. They mock him and Dim is still mad for him hitting him. Alex says he is their leader and he has a right to know what is going on. Georgie says they have decided there is a new way which includes no more picking on Dim and Alex that he isn't their leader. He also tells him about Will the English says the big money is available. Georgie wants to pull a mansize crast, but first to the Korova to sharpen up. This leads to a quick fight with Alex smashing Dim and kicking Georgie and then Dim again. Alex says all is settle now. They go down and he asks Pete is he wants any and he backs off. Alex asks Georgie about the big score and Georgie says not tonight. Alex grabs him by the nose and forces him to talk him about the cat lady who is all alone with valuables and they go off to rob her.
When they arrive she is alone kneeling, feeding her cats. She is a young woman. Georgie tries the routine about his friend being injured in the street and the woman doesn't fall for it. Alex sneaks in and says he cut the phone line so she can't call out. She tries to escape, but he grabs her and throws her back again and again. He says he isn't interested in killing her, just robbing her. He spots a Beethoven bust and is so excited about it he beats her over the head with it, not realizing how hard he hit her. Soon the cops are on the way and we hear the sirens, so Alex heads out. Georgie and Pete grabs him and Dim whacks him in the face and he goes down. Alex goes down screaming in pain and each takes turns at him with Pete giving in and going last.
At the police station Deltoid chastises him saying it's the last time she'll she him. It's the end of the line, but she will testify against him in court tomorrow. She tells Alex his victim has died and Alex doesn't believe it since he only hit her once. The cops say he must be a big disappointment and they'll hold him so Deltoid can bash him in the chops. Instead Deltoid walks across the room, spits in his face. He thanks her for it and compares himself to Jesus getting spit on and says it is real horrorshow. She agrees it is a horror show.
Alex is stripped of his shirt and spiked bracelets. Now he is just in an undershirt for his prison garb. Alex talks about the trial and his mom crying at him being found guilty and sentenced to 14 years. It is now 14 years later. The priest gives his sermon about the reality of hell since he has scene it and the guards yell at the audience. Afterwards Alex comes up to the Chaplain and asks if he has done his best. He says he has and grabs Alex's bible and is shocked at some of the blasphemous notes Alex has written inside, but Alex assures him it was like that when he got it. The Chaplain says he'll get him another. Alex wants to have a good word put in for him about the Ludovico technique. The Chaplain isn't sure that the Ludovico is such a good idea and is surprised Alex has heard of it. Alex thinks the new white buildings being constructed is for it. They saw them while exercising, but the Chaplain says the technique is not being done at the prison yet.
He leaves and the the minister walks in with the warden who is showing her around the prison. She says they'll soon need the space for political prisoners instead of common criminals. He says he isn't a common criminal. She notices him and decides he is perfect for the treatment. He is excited about this, but they say they isn't a reward. He is taken away for the treatment and the Chaplain is very upset about it. He has grave doubts about the morality of all this. Alex says it will make him good and that it is good.
Alex says he doesn't feel like the cinema today. Dr. Brodsky comes in and he asks what they put in him. She says it is vitamins since he was undernourished. She is fascinated by his language and asks her assistant what it is. She explains it is a combination of English and Russian brought together. Brodsky says it is time and Alex stands in the center of the room.
A bright white light shines on his face and she tells Alex what is playing. The first film is a street scene, vicious teenage hoodlums beating an old woman, the blood flows, bones break. Alex laughs. Then four men attack and rape a 10 year old girl and go to kill her. Alex says no and she says that is something he likes. He then sees the Japanese torturing Chinese during World War II. A prisoner is disemboweled alive, then a decapitation and the body runs around without a head. Then he says he is going to be sick. Brodsky is pleased that is is going so quick. he gets sick and she says he is acting the way a normal person should. Branom tells Alex about Dr. Ludovico gives him a drink. She explains that the shots weren't vitamins like he thought. He says he is cured, she thinks not.
The next film starts from the opposite direction. It is a Nazi prison camp where victims are being castrated without anesthetic. Alex begins to get really upset when he hears Beethoven's Ninth on the soundtrack. He screams in anguish to turn it off. Suddenly the entire cast comes out and dances around him bathed in red lights and others do violent acts. The next film is of a riot in London's East End with the police to blame as much as the rioters for the violence. Corpses in the gutter, hanging from the lampposts, sick stuff. Science must take over and crush the reflex. He says fine, but he did no harm. Why do you punish Beethoven. He made heaven and you turned it into hell. Brodsky can't understand why this bothers him. She feels music is just a cheap commodity for emotional response like marijuana or sweets. Her assistant is deeply troubled that Alex will be like Pavlov's dog and that every time he hears music he will vomit. She asks Brodsky if she has foreseen this. She says she hasn't and it doesn't matter anyway since he is cured. She argues that he has been given a new disease and she wants out of the experiment with her name removed from it. She has bitten off more than she can chew she says as she leaves. Brodky asks if he has notice any change s in procedure. He says she hasn't been giving him the injections. She says that is correct and he has been cured to the exact time she planned.
The minister comes out to introduce Alex. He tells how after two years of prison Alex hasn't changed. But actions speak louder than words. He is put out center stage. A man out and gets right up in Alex's face and says he smells bad. Alex wants him to leave him alone as he has done him no harm. Alex goes to hit him and gets sick. Alex wants to get rid of him, so he offers him a bribe to clean his boots. Instead the man kicks him. He falls over and the man does a cartwheel and leaves. Brodsky explains to the minister how by thinking bad thoughts he is impelled toward being good. The chaplain is horrified that Alex has no choice in the matter, he ceases to be a man. Brodsky is only interested in results, cutting down crime. They argue and Alex pipes up asking what about him. Brodsky says he has no room to complain, he volunteered. The chaplain says he has no choice incapable of hate or love.
When the question of love is raised by the Chaplain, the minister is glad. He says they can demonstrate a love thought to be gone with the middle ages. Suddenly a young woman enters from behind him only wearing a black thong. He offers her his heart and to be her true knight as he crawls toward her on the floor. She leaves him and they clap. The minister explains he is a true Christian ready to turn the other cheek.
Alex is a free man. He returns home and sees his mother. He runs to her and they embrace. She thinks he escaped and shouldn't be there, but he says they let him out and hasn't she seen the papers? She says dad won't let her see the paper - too much sex and rubbish. She asks what his plans are and he says he has come back home, this is where he lives. Then a man in the corner starts clapping. he asks who it is. She explains it is Joe. They didn't think he would be back for another eight years so they rented his room. Alex says he can leave then. Joe comes over and says he won't let Alex treat his parents badly again. He is more like a son than a lodger. Alex is sick again. Joe says Alex hasn't been a real son at all. Alex goes to attack him, but can't. His dad comes over and says he expected this because he saw the paper. Alex sees how it is and says what will happen to him the pain in the ass. Joe says to watch his mouth. Mom says they can't kick him out since he is paid. Joe says he doesn't deserve them. Alex says he sees how thing are, he has suffered and suffered. Joe says it is only right that he suffers. They blow raspberries at each other. Alex goes to hit Joe again, but gets sick.
Just then three men come upon Alex. They are Dim, Georgie and Billboy who are now policemen. Alex can't believe it. When he calls out to Dim, Dim says not to call him that any more. He should call him officer. He tells Alex he heard about him getting out today from the Super reading it to him. Alex mocks him that he still can't read and Dim has had enough. Georgie and Billboy hold Alex by the arms as Dim beats him again and again. Alex tries to say it was long ago and forgotten. Dim says he hasn't forgotten - the memory and arm of the law are long.
He is left on his own and comes across a man and says the police beat him. He offers to feed him and introduces himself as F. Alexander. He says he recognizes Alex as the number one victim of the state. Providence brought him there. He is a victim, but also a weapon. Alex doesn't understand. He explains how censorship is on the way. They've banned his book. Hoodlums beat his wife then his manuscript was ripped up. Alex gets sick hearing about the wife, then sick after hearing the title of the book. He asks about his wife and he says she died. Alex is sick again. Alex asks what his plans are. He is not a tool, nor is he ordinary or Dim. When Mr. Alexander hears the word Dim it triggers a memory. He flips out and says Alex can't be the one who killed his wife because if he was he'd tear him apart.
Soon after Alex is awakened by the sounds of Beethoven's Ninth blasted in his room. He begins to scream and jumps out a nearby window hoping to sleep forever.
In the hospital we see Dr. Branom talking to another doctor after they worked on Alex. The other doctor wonders about the political angle and what will happen when the minister finds out. She says that this is bigger than politics.
Dr. Branom wants to show him some picture. He sees a picture of eggs, says they are real horrorshow and wants to smash them up against a wall or cliff. Then he sees a peacock and wants to pull on it and smash it for being so boastful. For a picture of a young girl he wants to give her the old in-out in-out real savage and ultra-violent. Then a scene of violence and looting in London he says he wants to give them all the boot. For a picture of Jesus he says he would like to hammer in the nails. She stops and says he was enjoying it. She says he is cured. He wonders how he can be cured when he is tied down. She says he'll be out soon.
The minister comes to Alex now and asks who his enemies are. He wants Alex to regard him as a friend and explains how Mr. Alexander wronged him and tried to use him for harm and then blame it all on the government. She tells Alex that he was a menace and was locked up for his own protection and for Alex's. He was mad with desire to stick a knife in him, but Alex is save now. When he leaves they will supply him with money and a job. The minister offers him a present, his choice of music - Mozart, Benjy Briton, Chopin? Alex chooses the ninth and and leans back and moves his hands to the music as it is pumped in. The ministers asks Alex what he sees and he tells her he is running and carving the world up with his britva. She says he is cured and he agrees.
Alex goes back to the Korova Milkbar. He sees a man and a woman and suddenly Alex recognizes the man as Pete. He says Georgie is dead and Dim is still a cop. Pete comes over and they shake hands. Pete introduces the woman as Georgina, his wife and Alex as an old friend. She thinks Alex talks funny and wonders if Pete used to talk that way. Alex says he is too young to be married. Pete says he is twenty. Pete explains they have a small place and he has a job selling insurance and she works as a typist. They manage to get by and have to be going to Greg's. Greg is before Alex's time, Pete explains he throws word parties, very quiet, harmless stuff, then they leave. Alex says he is 18 now. He saw a cartoon in a paper and saw himself coming home from work, eating dinner. He had an idea is he walked into the room next door he'd find a cot with his son it in. He would explain all this to his son, but knows he won't listen. he'd do the same stuff he's done and he wouldn't be able to stop him, any more than he'd be able to stop his own son. Around and around it goes. He realizes that he has grown up. Remember your old droog Alex when he was young, but he is not young any longer, he is grown up in this dirty world. He says this is farewell and to all others in his tale can kiss his ass and all the rest. But you remember Alex that was. He then dances in a red light to a bit of the ninth, then conducts to it in white light. The music gets industrial, the lights go out. The End.
This is the second time I have seen a
performance of the play and I never know what to expect. That's fine with me
because my attitude is 'surprise me'. They can do whatever they want, I'm
interested in the company's take on it. I already have the book and the movie
which are perfect and eternal. You can't change them or take them away. A play
is temporary, it comes and goes very quickly and few people see it. I'm still
waiting to see one of those horrible musical versions out of morbid curiosity,
but this wasn't one of those.
With all that said I was extremely surprised in the Godlight production and that is before it even started. The 59E59 theater is a three floor complex with a theater on each floor. When I walked in the theater was like the size of a living room. There were only 60 seats in the audience with 15 on each side. I've never seen such a small setting in my life and really didn't know what to expect now. When you walk in Alex is already there laying on the floor doing his thing to the music as people are seated. The play starts soon after.
The production is as sparse and bare bones as possible. Imagine hiring a group to perform a play in your living room and you'd have it. There was only one actual prop - a bust of Beethoven. There are also chairs in each corner that remain at all times. Actors do their scenes and then stand in each corner facing the wall as there is no other way out! I was amazed and at several points looked over to see them just standing there like bad children told to stand in the corner. I had to keep checking just to make sure they were still there. I got to thinking how boring it must be to have to do that instead of being able to relax backstage and be able to do something.
It's as in your face as possible. With only two rows of chairs every seat is close to the action. Now you might think this all sounds cheap or lame, but it wasn't. It was like a music video production. Instead of props and scene changes they used light and sound to change the mood and location. This was very elaborate and effective. For example Alex isn't strapped into a chair at the Ludovico center watching a screen. He just stands in the middle with a bright light shone on his face. The police station showed a silhouette of a fan spinning on the floor with the sounds of phones ringing and talking in the background. They are forced to use their hands as weapons and also as descriptive tools to demonstrate what we are looking at. When the lights go out so the actors can switch places I saw their secret for finding their marks. There was glow in the dark tape on each of the chairs and the middle of each side of the stage floor.
The outfits are closer to the book as all the droogs wore black. In fact all the characters were dressed in black. They also all had their faces painted white making them look ghoulish. It made it all look like an old black and white movie. It sounds gothic, but was more industrial. Mrs. Deltoid looks like a Nazi prison guard which is very effective. There was no humor in her, just a strict disciplinarian who has had it with Alex and his ilk.
In fact the bulk of the production has switched to female roles. This is the main change from the the standard. Deltoid, the warden, the minister of the interior and Dr. Brodsky are now women. This gives it a very different feel having all the authority figures as women. It's like they are turning it around on Alex. He rapes and attacks women and now the women of the system are all getting back at him.
Like the sets this Alex is also raw. He is more of a thug and less likeable that Alex in the film. In fact every character is more dark and vicious. This production is not played for humor. Randy did a good job as Alex, but I would've like him a bit more charming. Two of the stand out performances were by the chaplain and Deltoid. In the film the chaplain isn't the brightest bulb and in the Boston production he was a drunk. Here he was much more powerful, potent and aware of his surroundings. He also wears an outfit that is tattered and torn causing you to under estimate him at first glance, thinking he is a buffoon. Katherine as Deltoid was like a dominatrix. You could almost picture her whipping Alex into shape. She gave power to the role by acting as brutal to Alex as he acts towards his victims. She is a person fed up with him and the system, not his friend.
The biggest surprise was that the girl during the Ludovico cure demonstration was topless. This is the first time I've seen nudity in a play. In a way though this bold move was rendered unerotic by the simple fact that Dena's breasts were so tiny, not even an A cup. If they really wanted sexy they should've used Katherine Boynton as she had rather large breasts, but she was dark haired and I guess they wanted a blonde. The funny thing is that right after Dena runs off stage she throws a long dress on, puts on glasses and pulls her hair back to play Alex's mom. What a switch.
The main problem I have with the show is how short it was. Of course this means many things were left out. Without the scene changes and build up it is able to go faster so all the basic scenes are still there. It makes the flow tighter, but left me wanting more like Alex picking up the two girls and taking them home, the attack at the library, the Durango 95, and the first half of chapter 21 where Alex is with his new gang. There was only one scene really didn't work and was badly executed and that was the attack on Mr. Alexander. In fact I thought the whole scene was skipped completely and it made no sense to have Mr. Alexander at the end because there was no connotation for having him there. It wasn't until the next day that I realized what I thought was the attack at the library was really the attack on Mr. Alexander. By not having the prop reference it was impossible to tell. They go from Billboy to the Alexander's in a heartbeat. No police coming, quick exit, Durango 95, hogs of the road, sneak up to the house, masks, my friends lying in the road bleeding, etc. Plus they didn't use the dialog to even make it look like Mrs. Alexander was raped. No ripping of her clothes, holding her down, rape attempt, viddy well little brother - nothing. This scene needs to be reworked to make it obvious as to what is happening. It also didn't work when Mr. Alexander takes Alex in at the end because what Mr. Alexander says doesn't gel with their first encounter.
All in all it was a little bit better than the Boston production because the stripped down nature really hits you over the head with the message of the story. If you are looking for a strict adaptation of the play or something close to the movie, you will be disappointed. If not and you live anywhere near New York City do yourself a favor and go see it.
This page © 2005-09 Alex D. Thrawn for www.MalcolmMcDowell.net