Action To The Word’s award-winning, A Clockwork Orange hits London’s Park Theatre this week. This hugely physical theatre horror show aims to capture and transcend the spirit of Anthony Burgess’ original literary masterpiece, and puts its unique spin on Stanley Kubrick’s controversial film from 1971.
A Clockwork Orange lures its audience into the glass-edged nastiness of Manchester’s underworld. A playtime of orgiastic ultraviolence and sexuality, it’s the story of little Alex and his Droogs in their battle against the tedium of adolescence. We caught up with actor Jonno Davies who plays Alexander…
JD: Ha! If I was, I don’t think I’d publicly admit it! I think my strongest connection with him is his phenomenal passion for music. Although my tastes aren’t as classical as Alex’s, I like to surround myself with it and be inspired by it in the same way. Silence is a very rare thing in our household!
Your role is quite a vibrant one. How do you psyche yourself up to play such an energetic character?
Again, music! It’s such an invigorator. Also, every morning before rehearsals, we complete an hour-long circuit workout to help increase our stamina for the show; ensuring the ultraviolence never fades. The levels of testosterone flying around in that time is probably border-line dangerous.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 movie is still widely known as a controversial film. Have you seen it? Can you understand why it caused such a furore?
Yeah I purposefully didn’t watch it for the first two years of playing Alex, just to make sure my performance wasn’t subliminally influenced my Malcolm McDowell’s. However I did recently watch it with the director and I was surprised at how funny it was! I can see why it was banned, it sort of unintentionally glamorised violence to the point of inspiring copy-cats. There’s enough wrong-doing in the world without an army of wannabe droogs on the streets.
The film was deemed to be something misunderstood by many people. Do you think the stage adaptation will have the same effect?
I hope not. There’s a certain trademark ‘Action To The Word’ boldness to our piece that I suppose may divide opinion, but not necessarily mislead.
The novel by Anthony Burgess was first available in 1962. It’s a story of a nightmarish vision of the future. Do you think any parts of the story can be something relating to the age we now live in?
Absolutely. We still have generations blaming each other for the societal problems of today. The world is currently the most fragmented it has ever been and we have a psychopath who believes he’s saving humanity. It’s definitely not a coincidence that he’s orange.
At the age of 24, do you like the challenge of working on a story that first came to light before you were born? Were there any elements you found difficult resonating with?
I think the idea with good art is that it resonates with the audience long after it’s established. Whether it’s The Beatles, Shakespeare or van Gogh, great art is timeless and I think I’d put A Clockwork Orange in that category, which essentially makes my job a lot easier.
You’ve previously appeared in theatre adaptations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Shakespeare In Love. Was it the passionate and poetic style of this play that appealed to you?
Alexandra Spencer Jones (with a little help from Anthony Burgess) has established a real melody to the text and arc of the show. When you throw that in the mix with a ‘fictional’ dialect and an outright obsession with Ludwig Van, it provides so much substance for an actor to play with, so it’s extremely appealing.
What was the last theatre production you went to see?
Birthday Suit at the Old Red Lion by Pluck Theatre. One of my cast mates, Pip Honeywell, co-produced and starred in the show. He’d be in full rehearsals with us in the day and then jet off to perform at night. I’m not quite sure how he actually survived. Really impressive.
● A Clockwork Orange at runs until 24 March at Park Theatre | Book tickets
● Check out EQ Music Blog’s review here
● Watch Phil Marriott and Raj Rudolph reviewing A Clockwork Orange in the video below…