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Sunday, May 25, 2014


(Lungani Mabaso, Kagisho Tsimakwane, Sipho Zakwe and Gabriel Miya. Pic by Val Adamson)

Cast and crew do an admirable job in presenting this challenging and complex play. (Review by Keith Millar)

Opening a few nights ago at the Cane Growers Hall on the ML Sultan Campus was the Durban University of Technology’s, Department of Drama & Production Studies, production of A Clockwork Orange.

It is worth considering some of the background factors in the staging of this production. Firstly, there are no professional performers involved. All the actors in the production are first, second and third year students who are still in the process of learning their craft.

Secondly, the extensive renovations to DUT’s Courtyard Theatre were not completed in time, so the production was forced to move to the Cane Growers Hall.

Unfortunately, this venue is not really suitable for a theatre production. It has a big booming acoustic which makes dialogue difficult to hear. Added to this was the teenage slang which is an inherent part of the play but is difficult to follow if it is not properly audible.

However, given the circumstances, I think the cast and crew led by director Marcia Peschke did an admirable job in presenting this challenging and complex play.

Sir Anthony Burgess’ 1980’s play, A Clockwork Orange is based on his iconic novella of the same title. It is a cautionary tale, and a dark social satire, about extreme youth violence. Set in a dystopian future the story takes an acerbic look at hooliganism and social identity in an authoritarian state.

The play has a large cast with 22 students, many playing more than one role. While it is apparent that some of them lack experience, they all do a competent job They will certainly benefit and grow from this experience.

The standout performances for me were Sipho Zakwe as Alex, and Gabriel Miya as Dim, one of the Droogs. Alex and his gang, called Droogs, are central to the story and are responsible for the violence and mayhem which is the bedrock of the story.

I last saw Zwake in the DUT production of Carlo Goldoni’s A Servant of Two Masters. Playing Truffaldino, he produced an excellent comic performance. As Alex, he shows his versatility and again marks himself as a talent to be watched. Miya was seen in Giselle Turner’s eLimboland at the Musho Festival this year. He has a golden baritone voice and uses it to good effect in playing both Dim and the prison Chaplin.

A Clockwork Orange is a very physical production with several nicely-choreographed and well-performed scenes of violence and fights. The set, however, was a little disappointing. The general backdrop using urban art and graffiti to invoke an atmosphere of destruction and decay worked well – and the general shabbiness of the Cane Growers Hall also played a part in setting the overall scene. However, I felt that some basic props could have been employed to better identify the many different locations where the action takes place.

Also not to be forgotten is the liberal use of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the production, Beautiful music which is well worth listening to.

The staff of DUT’s Department of Drama & Production Studies, under Prof. Debbie Lutge, is doing an outstanding job in nurturing and mentoring our next generation of performance artists. Productions such as A Clockwork Orange are an important part of the training and development they offer. They - and their talented, dedicated and hardworking students - deserve all the support and encouragement they can get.

If you love and support theatre, get to the Cane Growers Hall and see what the future has to offer.

A Clockwork Orange will run until May 30 at the Cane Growers Hall on the ML Sultan Campus, DUT. Performances start promptly at 19:00. Tickets R35 booked through Busisiwe Mqadi on 031 373 2194, or Theatre Manager Mthandazo Mofokeng on 031 373 2532. You can also visit their FB link ( or search A Clockwork Orange, Courtyard Theatre. – Keith Millar