The Foundation

Burgess Centenary

We celebrated the centenary of Anthony Burgess’s birth in 2017. Find out more here about our programme of activities and publications.

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Drama on 3: A Clockwork Orange (BBC Radio 3):

There have been many iterations of A Clockwork Orange for stage and screen, but this performance is the first time Anthony Burgess’s ‘Play with Music’, written in 1986, has been performed with full orchestral accompaniment.

The story of the play will be familiar to fans of Burgess’s novel and Kubrick’s film: Alex, a teenaged criminal spends his evenings assaulting, robbing and raping his victims, until he is betrayed by his gang of droogs, and undergoes an experimental treatment which makes him unable to commit acts of violence.

Samuel Edward-Cook is excellently thuggish as Alex, rough and northern, but sympathetic in the face of the horrors of Ludovico Technique. His musical sections remain in character, from the boisterous opening number (‘What’s it Going to Be Then, Eh?’) to his menacing declaration of leadership (‘There’s Got to Be Someone in Charge’) and his duet with his probation officer Deltoid (‘What Gets Into You All?’).

Alex’s descent into prison and State-sponsored mind-control is ably supported by the rest of the cast who take on multiple roles. Alex’s droogs, played by Edward Leigh, Wesley Charles and Robbie Fallon, have a dangerous swagger. Jonathan Keeble, who takes on the role of the drunken prison chaplain, and Paul Barnhill, who plays Dr Brodsky with a psychotic verve, are particularly excellent.

This performance highlights Burgess’s comedic writing, and the cast manage to move between ultra-violence and black humour without a jarring change in tone. Burgess’s songs, comedic in themselves, do much to create the tone of this performance and his music, played by the BBC Philharmonic, is as loud and violent as the droogs, providing the soundtrack for the many beatings and assaults in the script.

A Clockwork Orange: A Play with Music by Anthony Burgess

Sunday 1 October 2017, 9:00pm (Available on iPlayer for 30 days)

BBC Radio 3



Alex: Samuel Edward-Cook

Dim/Warder/Comedian/Rubenstein/Len: Edward Leigh

Pete/Policeman 3/Dolin/Pedofil/Other Doctor/Rick: Wesley Charles

Georgie/Jojohn/Aide/Bully/Voice: Robbie Fallon

Alexander/Governor/Policeman 2: Ian Bartholomew

Deltoid/Minister/Father/Gang 1: Sévan Stephan

Wife/Old Lady/Branom/Mother: Sue Jenkins

Girls/Beautiful Girl/Marty/Woman/Nurse: Ibinabo Jack

Man/Chaplain/Joe/Gang 2: Jonathan Keeble

Policeman 1/Dr Brodsky/Billyboy: Paul Barnhill

Conductor: Gergely Madaras

Music performed by: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Music arranged by: Iain Farrington

Director: Gary Brown