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Nothing can quite compete with the powerful image of Malcolm McDowell’s black–fringed eyes held forcibly open as he undergoes aversion therapy in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film version of Anthony Burgess’s futuristic 1962 novella.

But Alexandra Spencer-Jones visceral all-male production for Action to the Words (using  Burgess’s own later stage adaptation) exudes a sweaty atavistic menace as teenage Alex and his gang of Droogs indulge their adolescent sprees of senseless, testosterone-fuelled violence.

Bottles are smashed into weapons of sexual assault, chains are wielded, fists and boots terrorise old and young, male and female – until Alex, convicted and imprisoned, becomes a guinea-pig for a new treatment designed to knock the aggressive instinct out of him once and for all - and save the state some money in the process.

Shafts of orange pierce the monochrome design (a carrot-coloured pen peeks from a lab coat, a victim sports a tangerine cardigan) and the well-muscled cast of nine execute their acts of violence with balletic, sometimes homo-erotic precision, speaking in their own unique “Nadsat” slang as they gather in the local milk bar or terrorise an old lady.

Led by Martin McCreadie’s swaggering, charismatic, Beethoven-loving Alex, they deliver a short, powerful sensory attack which questions whether forcing someone to be good – whatever the rationale - is in itself an unacceptable violation.

Soho Theatre, Dean Street, W1D 3NE
Tube  Tottenham Court Road
Until 5th Jan
£15.00- £22.50


Photo: Simon Kane


A Clockwork Orange theatre review – Soho Theatre, London
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