Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Clockwork Orange: (Live at the Paper Wing Theatre)

"A Clockwork Orange"

Originally adapted for the screen by Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Burgess' novel explores free will in a dystopian society where the Government has asserted control over many facets of peoples lives. I saw the film a number of times in my youth, but it's the novel itself that has held the greatest impact for me. It's a bleak look into a dark future and leaves plenty of room for discussion, debate, and philosophical consideration of liberty, responsibility, and security. Although adapted for stage and screen in various incarnations, it's Kubricks satyrical vision that drives L.J. Brewers adaptation of the material. The set is beautifully designed with solid shapes and colors against a bleak grey backdrop and graffitti covering the walls of one third the stage. A white sheet and backlight serves as a shadow cast for a number of scenes, allowing the audience to imagine some of the plays most intense scenes. Music fills the play with synthetic and haunting sound from the film as well as some additional choices.

The shows protagonist, Alex DeLarge, is tackled by actor Tyler Vocelka. Tyler's performance is animated, his eyes delivering brilliant reactions to various situations and bringing both humor and menace to the show. He leads his "droogs" through an opening series of "ultra-violent" acts culminating in the vicious home invasion as Tyler belted out "Singin' in the Rain" to chilling effect. Nicholas Kelly, Drew Davis-Wheeler, and Jeff Collenberg are "Dim", "Georgie", and "Pete" and each performer is well suited to their role. As we explore Alex's world we meet his parents (Kelly Machado and Michael Alliman) and Mr. Deltoid (his probation officer played by Jay DeVine). Alex eventually finds himself in Prison after a betrayal from his gang.

All of the actors did a stunning job of presenting the first act. Hardened as I am to some of the scenes presented through a television screen, it was hard to watch some of the scenes taking place a mere twenty or thirty feet from my seat. The scene in the Alexander home nearly drove my eyes to my palms and sent an uncomfortable knot through my stomach as Alex and Dim went to work on the courageous woman (actress: Marlinda Mooneyham) with a pair of scissors and a song. Shane Dallman and Edward Couttolenc (as police officers) eventually bring Alex to justice and we see the mockery of justice in this dystopian society when Mr. Deltoid joins in the taunting of young Alex.

The second act begins with an incredibly humorous Chief Guard (Eric Morton)belting out a list of Alex's personal belongings. Alex is to serve a 14 year sentence, but we rejoin him after two years as he discusses the Ludovico Treatment with the Prison Chaplain (Michael Alliman). It isn't long before Alex is subjected to the Pavlovian treatment and released to a cruel world. There are so many great performances throughout the second act, but it was Tyler's very personal torture that forced this viewer to actually turn his head from the treatment itself. His choking, gagging, and horrified screams became increasingly empassioned and you could feel everything in this young actors performance. When the cold Dr. Branom (Koly McBride) questions Alex about the music, the audience can see the degree of uncertainty before the treatment continues.

So, if you live in the Monterey area and want to see a faithful adaption of one of the most controversial and brutal films ever made than I highly recommend attending the Paper Wing Theatre's adaptation of "A Clockwork Orange". It perfectly illustrates my assertion that art isn't safe and often needs to expose the ugliest parts of humanity in order to make us think. The performers courageously tackle some extremely uncomfortable material and they deserve your regard. Support your local arts.

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