Cast | Articles | Interviews | A Note from the Directors | Notes | Pictures | Press Release | Synopsis - Official | My Summary | My Review
|Georgie/Pedofil/Lab Assistant||Kristian Williams|
|Pete/Big Jew/Comedian||James Milord|
|Dim/Minister's Aide/Dolin/Reporter||Ed Hoopman|
|Devotchka/Mrs. Alexander/Neighbor/Nurse/Georgina||Claire Shinkman|
|Devotchka/Billyboy's Girl/Singing Devotchka/Dr. Branom/Dancing Girl/Marty||Joyeux Noël|
|Waitress/Old Lady/Governor/Mother||Linda Carmichael|
|Old Drunk/Deltoid/Minister of the Interior||Brian Quint|
|Book Man/Warden/Other Doctor/Father||Peter Darrigo|
|Billyboy/Policeman/The Doctor/Rubinstein||Seth Holbrook|
|Billyboy's Droog/Policeman/Cabaret Dancer/Jo John/Joe/Len||Walter Belenky|
|Billyboy's Droog/Policeman/Zophar/Rick||Mike Premo|
|Billyboy's Droog/Cabaret Dancer/Dr. Brodsky/Bully||Mason Sand|
|F. Alexander||Tony Dangerfield|
Artistic Director - Shawn LaCount
Co-director - Mark Abby VanDerzee
Music by The Dresden Dolls
Taking a risk like 'Clockwork'
Company plans daring BCA debut
By Joan Anderman, Globe Staff | July 18, 2004
A young man - a boy, really - sits rigid in a chair on the
Brookline High auditorium stage while another boy maniacally licks his face,
twists his ears, and bites him on the mouth. The character in the chair, whose
name is Alex, doesn't move. A lovely woman appears and begins to dance
seductively, rubbing her body against Alex's, inviting him to touch her. Alex
keeps his hands to himself. The woman spits in his face and a group of
spectators applaud approvingly. Mission accomplished.
The novel and film version of "A Clockwork Orange," Anthony Burgess's dystopian tale of a teenage thug whose moral depravity is exceeded only by the government authorities who reprogram him, are infamous. But the play, adapted by Burgess himself in 1990 for the Royal Shakespeare Company, is rarely performed, not to mention thematically treacherous, politically charged, and challenging to mount -- which is why Boston's award-winning fringe theater group Company One has chosen the show to launch its sixth season and its residency at the Boston Center for the Arts.
"Instead of finding the perfect small piece that we knew we could wrap our hands around and do easily, we decided to go all out, mark our spot, take the big risk," says Company One artistic director Shawn LaCount. "The first thing we do as [BCA] residents should be something that really represents us. `A Clockwork Orange' is dangerous and large and ugly and dirty. Those are not words associated with most shows in Boston."
Indeed, odds are slim that any other local theater company has recently enlisted the services of a brutality consultant. In addition, a pair of fight choreographers have been hired to stage a massive gang encounter and the show's many episodes of the old ultra-violence. But fans of Stanley Kubrick's chilling 1971 film are in for some surprises, says LaCount, who is directing the stage production, which opens on Thursday. Gone are many of the movie's hallmarks, from the British dialect to Alex's notorious bowler hat. A multi-ethnic crew tears through a newly imagined urban-industrial wasteland led by Raymond Ramirez, an 18-year-old actor who graduated last month from the Boston Arts Academy.
Ramirez - who appeared in Company One's production of "Twilight: Los Angeles" in 2002 - has never seen the film, and he's just beginning to read the book to glean some insights into the milk-drinking teenage rapist he's playing. Despite his youth and relative inexperience, however, Ramirez in the lead role is one of the reasons LaCount isn't completely terrified at the prospect of mounting this show.
"Two years ago Raymond showed glimpses of being able to dominate a space, and I've watched him evolve and mature as an actor," says LaCount. "He is finding the vulnerability and total insecurity of a 14-year-old and also the character's masculinity and violent strength. He's breathing the air of Alex these days."
Perhaps the most surprising feature of Company One's production will be the ending, based on the final chapter of Burgess's 1962 novel, which was cut from both the version published in the United States and from Kubrick's film. In it, Alex outgrows his violent impulses and experiences a sort of redemption, musing on fatherhood and coming to the realization that his energy is better spent on creation than destruction.
"There's an element of fate in this show that isn't necessarily there in the movie," says LaCount. "There's this idea of taking responsibility. That's a big one that we deal with, personally and also professionally, as a company. At the heart it's a coming-of-age story, and this company is coming of age."
This company is also putting on a show that's harshly critical of an authoritarian government of dubious morality intent on imposing order at the expense of free will -- during the Democratic National Convention.
"There is some political stuff in the piece," says co-director Mark VanDerzee, "and regardless of what we believe it's nice to just throw that out there around this time every four years or so, for people to think about."
"The story is relevant no matter when it's done," adds LaCount. "It's about legislating morality and it's about how we're doing that right now in America, in the way government finds its way into religion, into family."
Music is a crucial part of "A Clockwork Orange"; one of the film's most notorious scenes shows Alex and his Droogs on a murderous spree accompanied by the uplifting strains of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Alex later develops an aversion to his beloved Beethoven, whose music accompanies the horrific sequences of filmed violence that he watches during his rehabilitation. The Royal Shakespeare Company's theatrical version used songs composed especially for the production by Bono and the Edge of the rock band U2. Company One has had the good fortune to hook up with the local punk-cabaret duo the Dresden Dolls, whose classically trained pianist and singer, Amanda Palmer, is a Beethoven aficionado and whose musical aesthetic -- shot through with dark humor and decadent, violent beauty -- is strikingly simpatico with the show.
"Their mood fits perfectly, and so we called them on a lark, expecting they would be too busy to do it because they were going to be on tour with Lollapalooza this summer," says VanDerzee. "But Amanda was so into it, the following week we were at her place and she had her Beethoven CDs spread out."
Lollapalooza was canceled, but Palmer and her partner, drummer Brian Viglione, were in the throes of touring and recording and still had to rush through the project, which she says she would have loved to linger over.
"I wish I had had scads of time with the script and could have sat down with designers and the director and spent six months meticulously composing lots of original music," says Palmer, who gave the company permission to use tracks from the Dresden Dolls' recordings. "But I was so familiar with the book and the movie and the original soundtrack by Wendy Carlos, which was this very weird electronic music based on Beethoven, I decided to give it a crack in the limited time we had.
"We had a pretty good map of the play and where the music was going to land, so I picked a couple of themes -- the opening notes of the Fifth, the most memorable theme from the Ninth, and the third movement of the Moonlight Sonata -- and Brian and I went into the studio and just went crazy improvising." Complacency is anathema to Company One, which set out six years ago to lure a younger and more diverse audience to the theater with radical, challenging works. The company won its first Elliot Norton award, for outstanding local fringe production, for last season's "Jesus Hopped the `A' Train," and the residency should give a boost to its innovative programming and education program for teenagers and college students.
But "A Clockwork Orange," LaCount freely admits, isn't for the mainstream theatergoing public. Devotees of the film, he says, are going to hate it. He agrees that brave is the best word to describe the decision to mount this show.
"When I'm comfortable with what I'm doing, it's usually not the right thing for myself or the company," says LaCount. "This is terrifying in a lot of ways. In a lot of good ways."
An exclusive with the lovely and talented Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls who helped create the soundtrack. 7/1/05
Q: Were you a big fan of A Clockwork Orange before you did the soundtrack for the play?
A: Oh, of course. It was one of those classic high school movies for me. I read the book soon after watching the movie and fantasized about putting on my own production. I also bought the German translation when I was living in Germany, because I was curious how the slang would be translated.
Q: How did you get the Company One job? Did they want a hometown band?
A: Company One found us through the local scene and just sent us an email
through our website. We were ecstatic to get involved, but the time constraints
were difficult. It's
really hard to be a touring band and work on all the projects that you want to...
Q: You said the play "had its moments". I take it you weren't totally enthralled by it. What did you like, dislike and why?
A: There wasn't the edge that it really needed to sear into people's consciousness. The acting was passionate at times but also a bit amateur. I'm a real hard-ass critic when it comes to theater.
Q: If you got to design your own Clockwork play from the ground up how would you do it?
A: With a year off and tons of money. I'd also incorporate a lot of film and screens, very Orwellian.
Q: Which do you prefer - the book or the movie and why?
A: I have to say, there are few movies that live up to their books. The Shining was one, also The Exorcist and Dangerous Liaisons. I think they both have their own worlds and you can't really compare them.
Q: What is your favorite scene from film and how do you rate Malcolm McDowell's performance?
A: My favorite scene is Alex's eating in the hospital bed at the end, it's juts so fucking hilarious. Malcolm was A1.
Q: Is there anything you would like to promote?
A: Nope, just the website! www.dresdendolls.com
Yeah, cured all right.
And so ends the American published version of the novel A Clockwork Orange (ahem, it is "I was cured all right". You are thinking of the play - Alex), and subsequently Stanley Kubrick's screenplay; chapter 21, the last chapter, removed in order To give the American audience a more satisfying ending. The Cycle has come around again, and at eighteen years old, Alex is still the charming, maniacal droog that he is at fourteen when the story begins.
In ending this way however, an injustice is done to Alex, to the story and to the audience. Our power to choose has been taken away. We are left feeling absolutely sure that Alex's horrific behavior will continue throughout his lifetime with no hope of redemption, or maybe more importantly, responsibility, there is no decision for us to make about the future; we can viddy it all very clearly what we can expect from him.
But what might happen if our little Alex groweth up? We have chosen to restore the original ending of the piece, Anthony Burgess' 21st chapter with it, the through line of the story is more complete, the character of Alex is more interesting and the power of choice is given back to the audience. What will Alex choose to do, and will true responsibility ever be taken for decisions made? We'll see...well, see being the operative word.
Mark VanDerzee & Shawn LaCount
In the program they took nearly my entire ACO Timeline without permission, but did give me credit for it - except they botched the URL.
Also in the program they excerpted Burgess' intro to the original 1990 production.
There was one 10 minute intermission near the end of the Ludovico session.
Contained violence and nudity - not appropriate for children.
Total performance time was 2 hours, 10 minutes.
Refreshments were served in the lobby
Performed with the permission of the Estate of Anthony Burgess.
Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 7pm and 10pm, and Sundays at 7pm
Ticket prices: Adult $25; Student/Senior $15. Pay What You Can: Sunday, July 25
Special discount passes, please present at time of purchase.
Group Sales - please contact company. Circle of Friends discount.
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Offices of the BCA are open from 9am to 5pm Mondays through Fridays.
The Box Office is open: Wednesday - Saturday 12:00 noon - 5:00 or last call Sunday, Monday and Tuesday closed On days on which there are performances, the Box Office will close 15 minutes after the show opens.
For Sunday and Monday performances, the Box Office will open two hours prior to performance time. After July 18, check for new summer hours.
Administrative Office: (617) 426-5000
Alex and Devotchka promo shot - closer to the film 1
Alex and Devotchka - closer to the film 2
Raymond Ramirez (Alex) Head Shot
Ed Hoopman (Dim) Head Shot
Seth Holbrook (Billyboy) Head Shot
There is summer theatre in Boston. And then there is A Clockwork Orange.
Company One, winner of the 2004 Elliot Norton Award for Best Local Fringe Production, launches its sixth season this July with the Boston premiere of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. A wild mix of theatre, film, and rock ‘n roll, A Clockwork Orange redefines the classic story with direction from Company One and original music from The Dresden Dolls.
A Clockwork Orange, adapted by Burgess for London’s Royal Shakespeare Company in 1990, is the infamous coming-of-age story of Alex and his gang of “droogs,” who tear through adolescence fueled on spiked milk cocktails, classical music, and violent crime sprees. This version includes the controversial ending that was cut from the original American edition of the book.
It is everything devotees of the cult classic know: the “ultraviolence,” “the old in-out,” and “lovely Ludwig Van.” But this production of A Clockwork Orange is a new cult classic in the making, with a cast including Boston’s most dynamic young actors, and an original score by Boston’s most notorious band.
“This is a classic piece, adapted by Burgess himself, and it’s very rarely produced onstage,’’ says Shawn LaCount, the Artistic Director of Company One. “But the topics it deals with—politics, and religion, and youth—are timeless, and this production will introduce a tale of post-industrial alienation to a new generation.”
LaCount and co-director Mark Abby VanDerzee felt that The Dresden Dolls—the winners of last year’s WBCN “Battle of the Bands,” and named among the best groups in Boston by Boston Magazine and the Boston Phoenix¾ could provide an appropriately propagandist sound for Company One’s version.
“They’re perfect,” LaCount says. “The piano and drum has this eerie, raw sound. And lead singer and pianist Amanda Palmer is well-versed in her Beethoven, and knows the Fifth by heart.”
The result of this collaboration is A Clockwork Orange: frightening, entrancing, and compelling.
This brilliant, hilarious, and disturbing play, adapted by Burgess from his novel, creates an alarming futuristic vision of violence, high technology, and authoritarianism. Company One, the Boston Center for the Arts' newest Theatre-in-Residence, bravely stages this powerful masterpiece, infusing the cult classic with a fresh dose of highly potent revelry and delivering a merciless coup-de-gras to the idea of tame summer theatre.
young men are at a table in the Korova Milkbar. There is a bar and a waitress behind them as well as a
few other patrons. They are laughing and whooping it up as loud music plays
behind them when it suddenly stops. Everyone is frozen except for Alex who
starts off the story explaining who he and his droogs are. He is Mexican, short,
has dark hair, wears a black vest
and pants, gray shirt and has makeup marks on his face. When he is done with his soliloquy
the action and the music returns. He then says it is time to go and the bar
darkens and disappears.
The boys come upon a man carrying books and they begin to harass him. They take his books and destroy them and mock the content of them much to the mans' horror because the books are not his. Eventually they let him go and on the other side of the room come across a hapless drunk on the ground. They gather around him as he sings and then give him the boot, beating him mercilessly. Then they come across rival Billboy and his gang preparing to rape a young woman on a stage. They break it up 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's gang. Then it breaks up and Alex and Billyboy go one-on-one for an intricate fight in the center of it all and Alex triumphs. Alex then comments on how bad Dim looks and they head out.
They wind up at the home of F. Alexander and his wife as he is writing. Alex gains entry by using the story of needing to use the phone because he is friend is hurt. He and his droogs have masks that are almost out of Mardi Gras when they invade the house. They trash his manuscript, beat up Mr. Alexander and prepare to rape Mrs. Alexander when the lights go out.
Next we see the boys back in the Korova where there is a devotchka on the bar singing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Alex is in a rapture and tells his droogs that is what real music is. Then she steps down as the music continues and we see she was only lip synching it. Dim laughs and moons the girl. Alex gets mad, smacks him and they have words. Alex says he is their leader and he should show respect. Dim won't hear of it and the other droogs agree there is no leader and it is all for one and one for all. Then a man who has been sitting at the bar the whole time walks over to Alex. It is Mr. Deltoid. He 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 forced to kiss his ass and this is quite amusing to his droogs. He departs and the droogs agree to go their separate ways and meet again tomorrow.
We don't get to see any of Alex's home life and instead we see Alex get stopped by two policemen on his way home. They tell him about a particular bit of nastiness that went on at Mr. Alexander's and they know who he is and think Alex was involved. Alex is surprised they know who he is, but he blows them off.
The next day the droogs meet back at the bar and Dim and Georgie have it out with Alex that he isn't their leader. This leads to a quick fight with Dim in the bar where Alex wins after Cutting Dim's arm and thinks it is all settled. Georgie tells him about the old lady who is all alone with valuables and they go off to rob her.
When they arrive she is sitting all alone with only a bust of Beethoven on the table beside her. He tries his routine again about his friend being injured in the street and the old lady doesn't fall for it. Alex sneaks in and she tries to fight him, so he picks up the Beethoven bust and beats her over the head with it. Soon after the cops are on the way and Alex heads out. Dim whacks him in the face with his chain, blinding him, then takes off. Alex goes down screaming in pain and the cops take him away.
At the police station the cops rough him up before Deltoid arrives. He 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 punch him in the face. Instead Deltoid spits in his face and leaves.
Next we see the chaplain in Alex's prison giving his sermon and the warden yelling to the crowd. There are no prisoners in the crowd, so it is like we are getting yelled at. Afterwards Alex comes up to the Chaplain in hopes that he could put the good word in for him for the Ludovcio technique. He 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, but Alex takes it back. 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 building being constructed is for it, but the Chaplain says the technique is not being done a the prison yet.
In another part of the jail some of Alex's cellmates are cleaning the floors while the warder watches. Alex sits on the end of the stage reading while the others work. When the warder leaves they beat one of them up for causing trouble and Alex gives him a good whack. They guy falls to the ground dead and the other convicts blame Alex for his death. Alex tells them he only hit him once and they all gave him more tolchocks that he did. The warder comes back and helps cover up the prisoner's death because the warden, the minister of the interior and the governor are coming. The guard screws up a few times by saying inferior instead of interior when talking of him as he has the prisoners line up on both sides of the stage. The minister speaks of all the prisoners being just common criminals and Alex says he isn't common. This gets him noticed and they decide he is perfect for the treatment.
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 to be good. The Chaplain says he that it may actually be horrible to be good and drinks some booze to calm his nerves. He says he would pray for him, but he is now beyond prayer. Dr. Branom comes in and explains that all he'll have to do is watch some films and get some shots. Alex thinks that will be fun.
Alex is strapped to a chair in the middle of the floor facing the audience. Behind him a screen plays images and Dr. Brodsky stands on the stage in a weird short of white outfit with silver around his neck and tells Alex what films are playing. The films are updated to include the Los Angels riots and Rodney King beating. He also sees the Japanese torturing Chinese during World War II. Branom talks to Alex and gives him a drink. She explains that the shots weren't vitamins like he thought.
Alex begins to get really upset when he
hears Beethoven's Ninth on the soundtrack. Brodsky can't understand why this bothers
him. He feels music is just a cheap commodity for emotional response like
cigarettes. She 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 he has foreseen this. He says he hasn't and it doesn't matter
anyway, curing the violent reflex is all that matters. She argues that he has
been given a new disease and she wants out of the experiment with her name
removed. He has bitten off more than he can chew she says as she leaves. Alex wants out and says
he is cured. Brodsky says he isn't cured, but will soon be. He then goes back to
showing him more current images of violence and there is more Beethoven on the
Alex finishes his Ludovico treatment and is surprised to learn he no longer needs to get any shots. He is given his old clothes and a screen for him to change behind. The minister comes out to introduce Alex. He tells how after two years of prison Alex hasn't changed, except to be more violent, more fake. Now it is time to parade him out - a cured man. He is put out center stage in a chair for all to see.
Alex isn't sure what it is all about as we see run a man run by and go high up in the audience and begin to taunt him. There is a weird musical accompaniment and piped in audience applause. He is wearing all black, except for an odd white carnival mask with red around the eyes. He comes down and gets right up in Alex's face and when he turns we see the back of his pants are cut out revealing a thong. He proceeds to cartwheel and dance around Alex and to stick his ass in his face. He smacks Alex in the face, grabs his hair, bites him, grinds around in his lap and slams down on him. Alex gets up to be sick. Alex wants to get rid of him, so he offers to clean his boots. Instead the man kicks him in the face. He falls over and the man 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, but Brodsky is only interested in results, not the particulars.
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. The soundtrack then begins with a dirty song. Suddenly a young girl enters from behind him and a man helps her down from the stage. She is also in all black - a jacket, mini skirt and mans' dress hat. She dances around suggestively in front of Alex, rubs him from behind and puts her head in his lap. We see that she too has the backside of her dress cut out - in a heart shape, revealing a black thong. She does a strip tease removing the jacket leaving only a black bra as Alex reaches out for her. He offers her his heart and to be her true knight as he crawls toward her on the floor. She leaves him and now Alex is a free man.
He puts on his jacket and knives and heads for home. He knocks on the door, but can't get in. A neighbor comes to the window and asks what he wants. He says he lives there, but has no key. She recognizes him from the papers. She just moved in and wants no trouble from him or else he'll get trouble of his own. Then his mother walks up and they embrace. She thinks he escaped, but he says they let him out and hasn't she seen the papers? She asks what his plans are and he says he has come back home. Then Joe the lodger comes out from inside and she says he can't come back. He falls to his knees and pukes into a nearby garbage can. 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. His father comes up and is surprised to see him, but explains they can't kick Joe out now. His mother explains he has already paid the rent in advance. Joe says Alex hasn't been a real son at all, more of a monster. Alex sees how it is and says he will go away, they won't have to look at him anymore and it will have to lie heavy on their conscious. He yells at Joe, but this causes him to be sick again. Then the three of them go inside an leave Alex.
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.
He is left on his own and crawls to the first house he finds. He pounds on the door and yells that the police beat him and left him to die. The man tells him to come in and we see it is Mr. Alexander typing away, though now in a wheelchair. Alex collapses and Mr. Alexander goes to get him something to drink and a towel to wipe himself up with. Mr. Alexander asks Alex to tell him about himself and goes back to typing. Alex tells him how his friends forced him to attack and old lady and she died, he went to jail and he was given this horrible Ludovico treatment and after he was freed the police beat him. Mr. Alexander knows about the treatment, having read about it in the paper. Mr. Alexander tells Alex he is a victim, but also a weapon. He can be used to fight back because his punishment is all out of proportion since sex and music are now repulsive to him. He explains how he too is a double victim, first his wife was killed, then his manuscript was ripped up. When it was finally published, it was banned by the state. The book is called A Clockwork Orange.
Suddenly the phone rings and Alex is surprised. He says he thought he didn't have a phone. Mr. Alexander wonders why he thought that. Mr. Alexander tells his friends on the phone to come right over. Soon two men arrive and are thrilled that Alex is there. They explain how Alex can be a martyr for the cause of liberty. He is perfect for the overthrow of the government. Alex doesn't like this talk and feels like he is being used. He is not their tool, nor is he ordinary or Dim. When Mr. Alexander hears the word Dim it triggers a memory. He suddenly realizes that Alex is the one who killed his wife. His two friends hold him back and tell him he isn't the one. They try to calm him down and wheel him out. Dolin comes back and asks Alex if he really was the one who attacked Mr. Alexander. Alex doesn't answer directly, but says he has paid for his crimes and then some. Dolin leaves and Alex lays down to sleep.
Soon after he is awakened by the sounds of Beethoven's Ninth blasted in. He beings to scream, run about and freak out. He then takes out his knives and stabs and cuts himself. Mr. Alexander sits outside looking maniacally toward the audience. Alex slashes at himself again and collapses.
In the hospital we see Dr. Branom talking to another doctor after they worked on Alex. Branom says there are no physiological problems, but she worries that Brodsky's treatment may have been undone. The other doctor can't believe she wants that to happen. She does because it has been publicized that he tried to kill himself because of Beethoven and thinks he'll be ready for a few tests later. 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.
Alex is wheeled in on a hospital gurney. The chaplain appears and watches Alex from a window above, wearing a white coast, laughing and drinking from a flask. He holds newspapers and shows off the headlines about Alex and how the people now want the government out. It is a question of freedom of choice and the people know they have the right to choose evil. He says he is leaving the priesthood and has gotten a better offer from a distillery. A nurse then comes in and Alex talks to dirty to her. She runs out calling Dr. Branom to tell her he is awake.
Dr. Branom and another doctor come in with a slide projector to test him. He sees a picture of eggs and wants to smash them. To each picture he reacts sexually and violently. She pronounces he is cured and wheels him back.
Suddenly a press conference is called. The minister comes to Alex now as a friend as a reporter covers it all. 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. He tells Alex that he was a menace and was locked up for his own protection and for Alex's. The minister offers him a present, his choice of music. Alex chooses the ninth and and leans back, closes his eyes and moves his hands to the music as it is pumped in. The ministers' aide has Alex sign a paper and then they leave. Dr. Branom asks Alex what he sees and he tells her he is running and carving the world up with his knife. She says he is cured and he agrees.
The lights go dark, music pumps in and now Alex is back to whooping it up with some new droogs at the old Korova Milkbar. One of them grabs the waitress and carries her over his shoulder as she screams. When one of them asks what they should do with the evening. Alex doesn't know because he is just not in the mood. He walks away and the others wonder what is wrong with him. He comes back and says that now he is working he just doesn't feel like wasting his hard earned money. They says to just take the money if he needs it. Alex looks at a picture in his pocket and one of them grabs it away. It is a picture of a baby and they bust on him about it calling him a baby. Alex tells them that they are the babies going around yelling and beating on those who can't fight back. He grabs the picture back and tells them he isn't interested in what they are doing tonight and to just go their own way and they can meet back there tomorrow. They leave and harass the waitress and a girl sitting at a table on the way out.
Alex looks over at the girl and then a man comes in and joins her. Suddenly Alex recognizes the man as Pete. He gets up and they shake hands. Pete introduces the woman as Georgina, his wife and Alex as an old friend. She thinks Alex talks funny and Alex says he is too young to be married. She wonders if Pete used to talk like that. He says when he was younger, but now he is twenty. Pete explains they have a small place and he has a job selling insurance and she works too. They manage to get buy and have to be going to Greg's. Alex doesn't know Greg, so Pete explains he throws word parties, harmless stuff. As they leave, the music and action stops, and Alex gives his final thoughts to the audience. He says he was once young, but isn't any more. Someday he'll be able to explain all this to his son, but knows he won't listen. His son will explain it to his son and he too won't listen. First though, he has to find a woman to be a mother to that son and he'll start looking tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new beginning he says as he jumps up on the bar. He says this is farewell and all others in his story can kiss his ass and he smacks it. He jumps down, takes out his switchblades and flicks them open. The music and action start again. He goes over to a nearby girl and gets fresh with her. She pushes him into the bar and lays down on it and pulls her on to him and starts kissing her. The End.
When it comes to ACO there are four versions - the book,
the film, the ACO 2004 play with music and the play without music and the 21st
chapter. The first two are set in
stone and will never change (except for which version of the book you prefer -
20 or 21 chapters). The second two are up for interpretation. I think the play
with music is true to the book until the songs come in. I have no idea what Burgess was thinking
when he included those awful songs. A quick cash in? A poor attempt at a rock
opera like "Tommy"? He said it was to fulfill demand and to stave off bad productions people put out on their own, but why include new songs? Since this was the first time I
had seen the play in person I was dreading it might be the musical version. Thankfully, it
This play is not the film. Even though promo shots in the newspaper and the picture on the poster are inspired by the film, this play seems to have done everything they could to avoid looking anything like the film. One thing I notice when reading about any version of the play is that they all seem compelled to do the 21st chapter to create even more distance from the film. This is a good thing because it gives you a chance to see what never was and what could've been. The original play does contain the 21st chapter, but it can be dropped if the director wishes to stick more toward the film.
They succeeded in distancing themselves from the film in every way - except one. In the novel there is no mention of Mr. Alexander being in a wheelchair. This was added by Kubrick to link Alexander to Dr. Strangelove since Kubrick has a trademark of a wounded man in all his films as well as a link to his past films. In the play they also had Mr. Alexander in a wheelchair. I bet if they researched harder and learned there was no wheelchair in the book, they would've changed it.
Does the play work on its' own merits? Sure. You need to go in with an open mind and just accept it for what it is - a different interpretation of a classic. If you are a movie purist, the play wouldn't have appealed to you. Gone are the false eyelashes, white clothes, bowler hats, canes, Alex's apartment, Mrs. Alexander's red jumpsuit, the tunnel, the cats, the large phallus that Alex attacks the catlady with - basically every iconic image from the film. In the book the droogs wore black and so they did here. No bowlers in the book either, but those are so perfect, they are missed here.
The first thing I noticed was the Korova wasn't so futuristic, looking more like the Korova bar in New York City than in the film. No nude fiberglass female tables or milk dispensers here. The droogs are also very different. They are much younger, Dim isn't so bulky and even has red hair, plus there is a Latino and two blacks.
The Company One theater was quite small so it couldn't have a lavish budget with extremely detailed sets. The audience actually sat around three sides of the main area instead of straight away from the stage like is typical of a Broadway show. In fact at the start there was no stage and most of the scenes take place right on the floor. This makes the action much more close to the audience - very in your face. Also no microphones were needed as it was easy to hear the dialog making it feel more real.
Raymond who played Alex says he never saw the film and I believe him. He played the character his own way, but missed something critical. He was a bit too harsh and lacked the charisma that Alex had in the film that drew us too him. He also didn't have that wicked sense of humor. It's not that he did a bad job, it's just that he didn't capture the true essence of the character. In the film I smile and laugh throughout. For the play there were few laughs mostly because this Alex was more brutal and vicious. Of course this is a tour de force part and to memorize two hours of dialog is impressive, but he just didn't nail it. By not showing him listening to Beethoven at home we also miss the likeable side of him. One important part of the book that was also missed was how important neatness of person and dress was to Alex. This Alex was grungy, unkempt and instead of the eyelash, he had lines painted on his cheeks. This Alex also carried a couple butterfly knives instead of a cut throat britva.
Raymond, like Mick in O Lucky Man! only gets to play one role while every one around him plays multiple roles. I liked this because it did give it an OLM! type feel as the actors popped up again and again in different roles. Only 15 actors act every part in the play which is quite a feat.
Besides the 21st chapter there are also other scenes that weren't in the film. Most notably is the attack on the man by the library which was fun to see. Also the scene of Alex in jail when he kills another inmate.
If I had to pick one actor who stole the show it was Tony Dangerfield who played Mr. Alexander. I don't know where they found him, but he was a dead ringer for Patrick McGee. When he did the scene where Alex tries to commit suicide and he's hunched over in the wheelchair all crazy he looked exactly like Mr. Alexander in the film. It was uncanny.
The stand out actor all around would have to be Joyeux Noël who played most every female role in the play and was in the spotlight often because of it. I thought she was very convincing and sympathetic as Dr. Branom. In the play Branom is much different than in the film. In the film she doesn't do much besides give Alex his shot in the morning. Here she is very concerned about Alex being conditioned against music like Pavlov's dog and walks away from the project.
One of my favorite parts was when the droogs return to the Korova and there is a young devotchka singing the Ninth while standing on the bar instead of the older woman in the film. Alex comments to his droogs that is what real music sounds like and then she steps down and the music keeps going because she was just lip synching. It was a funny line on how you don't know what is real and what is fake like how when Milli Vanilli was caught lip synching on stage. They also had some weird sort of masked group in the bar doing a routine. This was very different.
Brian Quint did a great Deltoid, not quite capturing the true campiness of the film role, but still being very pushy and straight. I don't know why, but they had no scenes in Alex's apartment. Maybe it was easier not to have another set? This made for one cool scene when the droogs return to the Korova and have words with each other about leadership. A man sits at the bar the whole time, then suddenly gets up and we learn he is Deltoid. He comes over to Alex reading him the riot act like Deltoid does in Alex's house in the film. It was an interesting twist to the scene. By doing it this way it makes Alex look bad in front of his droogs, but it also leaves out the great "pain in the gulliver" scene at home when he mother checks on him. This also forces the confrontation with Joe the lodger to happen outside.
Another twist was to have the governor be a woman, but this didn't add really anything to the play. Maybe if she picked Alex because she was attracted to him it could've added sexual tension and a new angle to the story.
A somewhat pivotal scene that was missed by not having Alex's apartment was when his dad wonders what Alex does at night. He also tells Alex of the dream he has foreshadowing the attack of his droogs on him. I would've liked to have this scene in there. For some reason they barely used Alex's father at all here. He has only a couple lines and is completely useless. He even wears these weird pants with flaming red fire at the bottom from the 70s. He isn't the cog in the system he should be.
Another thing left out is that the catlady is no longer the catlady. I know real live cats would've been impossible to control in a live setting like this, but they could've done something funny by having lots of stuffed cats around.
The scene where Alex's parents come to visit him in the hospital was also discarded. I like this scene because it really shows Alex back to his viciousness for the first time.
The Ludovico scene was oddly done by having Alex face the audience and the images shown behind him. Maybe this was so we could see his expressions since if he faced the screen we couldn't see him. I liked how they updated it by having footage of the LA Riots described to him.
The highlight was seeing the 21st chapter acted out for the first time as it was very true to the play. The only thing is one of my favorite parts of the chapter in the book is Alex talking about the wind up toy that inside is coiled up like youth with energy to expend, but if left alone it will wander aimlessly and just crash into a wall over and over again. It's not Company One's fault since this wasn't in the original play. They ended it in a different way which I think was a nod to the film. Here they had Alex roll around on top of the bar with a girl a bit like he did in the film in the fake snow. A fitting end.
One of the strangest scenes was during the Ludovico cure demonstration. The man who tortured Alex looked like a mime. He did cartwheels and wore a mask. Most disturbing was that cheeks of his pants were cut out revealing a thong which was like something Prince would wear on stage. He grinded against Alex's crotch at one point which was a bit too gay. This scene was as far from the film as you could get. Alex offers to lick his shoes, but doesn't have to go through with it.
One disappointment was in the program it said there was violence and nudity. Well all the violence was pretty fake, like pro wrestling stuff. Also the nudity only came during the three times the guys were mooning each other. I was disappointed they did not go all out during the rape or Ludovico scenes by having the girls get naked too. I mean the guy in the thong showed more back than the girl in the Ludovico cure scene!
There was one intermission at the end of act one which was nice to get a break. All in all I'm glad I went and enjoyed the whole experience. This is a play you could see again and again by different theater groups and always get a different look out of it. I'll always love the film, but it is fun to see it a different way. It doesn't take anything away from it. I would highly recommend going to see the play if you ever get a chance so you can experience it for yourself.
Article © 2004 Boston Globe
Press Release © 2004 Company One
Everything Else © 2004-08 Alex D. Thrawn for www.MalcolmMcDowell.net