How a Gang of Droogs Get Fit (Ultrafit) Off Broadway

The sets and costumes are minimal to keep the audience’s focus on the script’s challenging language — “Nadsat” is the slang Burgess developed for characters in the novel — and the casual ruthlessness of its characters: Alex, Dim, Pete, Georgie and more.

Mr. Davies has deftly inhabited the Alex character for three years. When he first joined the cast, he said he was “skinny as hell” and had no idea what it would require. He dedicated himself to fitness and healthy eating.


Alexandra Spencer-Jones and Jonno Davies.

Krista Schlueter for The New York Times

“When I saw this, I said, ‘I know how topless I’m going to be,’” Mr. Davies said. “And I don’t want to be onstage thinking about my body and not looking good because that’s half of my energy being taken away from the story.”

Now, thanks to the training regime, Mr. Davies and the other cast members look like they belong in a professional wrestling ring. Matt Doyle, one of the new additions to the cast and a veteran of Broadway shows like “Bye Bye Birdie” and “War Horse,” recently became certified as a physical trainer, as a way to supplement his income between acting gigs.

“When the audition came around and we had a workout as part of it,” he said, “I thought, ‘This is actually a really wonderful way to tie together all of my passions.’ I’ve never done a piece that could really be strictly called physical theater. And I’ve never done so much movement onstage.”

Ms. Spencer-Jones said she was committed to mounting the play in a way that was faithful to Burgess’s writing, rather than the 1971 film version by Stanley Kubrick, a classic in its own right. She is now in talks to develop an all-female version in London — another opportunity for her to pay tribute to a book she fell in love with as a teenager.

“It’s 90 minutes of worship to him really,” Ms. Spencer-Jones said of Mr. Burgess.

Will Carr, deputy director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, said that the visceral production would have excited the novelist, who died in 1993.

“It doesn’t pull any punches and the physicality is a big point of it,” Mr. Carr said. “Its treatment of sexual violence is as powerful as the film. And the fact that it is all male gives you a new perspective on that.”

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