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
Photo: Simon Kane