lord head

lord of the flies

The Tale of two Tribes

Lord of the Flies

****

IT’S been 61 years since William Golding published Lord of the flies, the deeply analytical novel of the human social condition.

Back in the fifties the possibility of any widespread discussion or awareness about our inner psychological workings would have been scarce.

Now after years of programmes like Big Brother and I'm a Celebrity and our watching televised meltdowns most of us are aware at what can happen.

That’s a problem then in resurrecting this novel for the stage because the shock value of this disturbing story is somewhat tame now in comparison to when it first came to be in 1954.

What it does have though is some great performances from a young cast and they are all played out on an inventive and impressive stage set.

The first thing that impresses is that stage set by John Bauson.  A section of broken plane fuselage dominates the stage space with a pile of broken aircraft parts and luggage heaped around a rich jungle setting.

It’s the kind of detail that you would expect in more permanent installations such as those seen at a theme park. It’s that impressive that it seems something of a waste that it’s in full view as you take your seats. It would have been far more impressive to have somehow had it revealed it from the black with thetribes accompanying thundering air crash score and FX.

The story revolves around the crashed plane on a tropical island with a group of teenage survivors who descend into primal disorder and violence.

The group eventually is spilt into two distinct units, the hunters and the beach dwellers. 

Survival becomes tribal in Golding's classic

Leader of the beach crew is Ralph (Luke Ward Wilkinson) desperately trying to maintain some level of protective compassion and order on the island. With him is what might be considered the meek and mild.

There’s Piggy (Anthony Roberts) who delivers a powerful and long speech on the mental decay of the survivors. Fellipe and Thigo Pigatto as the twin brothers Eric and Sam, often helpless to know what to do as the chaos rises.

Diminutive David Evans as the small boy Percival who often drew long ` aahs’ from the audience as he tidily folded himself up and hid in a suitcase. Finally there is Simon (Keenan Munn Francis) the visionary boy who loses his life in the ritualistic violence.

As is often the case it’s the dark characters that have the most scope to perform. Freddie Watkins as Jack, chief of the Hunters, revels in his manic blood rituals and his angry power struggle within the group order. Matched in energy are his spear wielding followers Henry (Dylan Llewellyn) Bill (Yossi Goodlink), Maurice (Michael Ajao) and Roger (Matthew Castle) who all created a real sense of threat to the order.

This adaption by Nigel Williams is not without its issues. Directed by Timothy Sheader the action goes into several slow motion and choreographed sequences which might be acceptable on film but felt a little too contrived in comparison to the fine individual performances.

There is also the freezing the action and dialogue of one group who were meant to be in another location and then switching it the other group. With the set creating such a strong sense of location and with the switchover sometimes being a few lines the transition often felt awkward.

With the novel being one of the 100 most challenged books of the 90s the story remains a firm favourite for discussion in the education system and this excellent ensemble production provides a great opportunity for this young cast to develop and shine. To 07-11-15

Jeff Grant

03-11-15 

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