A History of Violence
Paper Wing unsettles with A Clockwork Orange.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Paper Wing likes to take on projects that are both ambitious and logistically challenging – in 2010, the company took on a blood-soaked adaptation of REPO: The Genetic Opera, and scored high.
Before that, in 2007, Paper Wing presented A Clockwork Orange – a melding of Stanley Kubrick’s masterful film adaptation and the original source material, the Anthony Burgess novel about a nihilistic world.
Four years later, Paper Wing has brought the ultra-violent morality tale back. The first thing to note about the current production: It’s almost a carbon copy of Kubrick’s 1971 screenplay, down to Alex’s voice-over narration and Wendy/Walter Carlos’ vibrant collage of classical music and Moog synthesizer on the soundtrack. The nudity and violence are also translated from screen to stage in an unsettlingly realistic fashion.
“It’s hard to see those rape scenes in person,” said one theatergoer during the intermission.
There’s no doubt that the biggest challenge for director Lloyd Brewer and the production was making sure the lead of Alex, the droog at the center of the story, was taken on by an actor that could to step into a role that had already been immortalized by Malcolm McDowell four decades ago.
It’s obvious that Tyler Vocelka studied McDowell’s performance with the meticulousness of a med student before finals. His movements, timing and facial expressions mirrored the Alex we all know from the film. But Vocelka’s Alex embodied something a little more sadistic than McDowell’s evil-yet-lovable take on the character, to the point that I didn’t feel sorry for him as he suffered through his painstaking and torturous “rehabilitation.”
However, Vocelka put an exceeding amount of heart and energy into the performance – and between his looks, his acting and the character, it was a highly compelling performance for the audience to take in. Out of a cast of more than 20, the other standout came from Alex’s nasally and pessimistic probation officer, Mr. Deltoid, played with slimy precision by Jay DeVine.
Meanwhile, the vast amount of voice-overs and music cues, which make up a large and important chunk of the play, was choppy and stopped suddenly at times. But the lighting makes up for that with its strategic incorporation into the minimal set, giving the stage added texture and additional tension.
As Alex would say, the story’s content is “real horror show,” whether it’s presented in a book, film or play format. Viewer discretion is definitely advised.
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE happens 8pm Fri-Sat through April 16 at the Paper Wing Theatre, 320 Hoffman Ave., Monterey. $20. 905-5684, www.paperwingtheatreco.com.