Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

jack ralph

Amit Mevorach as Jack and  Dorothy Hill as Bruce

Lord of the Flies

Crescent Theatre


So, what happens when a plane carrying a group of school children, evacuees from a war zone, crashes and the children end up alone, not an adult in sight, having to fend for themselves on an uninhabited island presumably somewhere in the Pacific?

That is the premise of William Golding’s classic novel and what we get is a slow breakdown, a perversion of what we have come to see and accept as society, as unwritten rules, law and order, even common decency and humanity are discarded in a simply superb performance by Stage2 youth theatre.

They create a discomforting world on stage generating an uneasy world off it. This is not a comfortable watch. The young cast use every part of the auditorium, enveloping and drawing in an ever more anxious audience into their dystopian domain. It is simply superb theatre.

There are twists to the original novel in this adaptation by Nigel Williams, first performed by the RSC in 1995, and there are more twists from Stage2. Golding had just boys marooned, Stage2’s evacuees are co-ed and having girls adds a new dimension to the group, never sexual, but certainly sexist

Ralph, one of the two main protagonists, is now a girl in another excellent performance from Dorothy Hill who we last saw in Education, Education, Education last year.

She commands respect at the start and is the first elected leader, never bossy nor domineering, and we really feel for her as the vision of a civilised world she tries to create is slowly torn apart, we even share her tears at the end.

Up against her is Jack, the choir prefect at his school, as he keeps reminding us early on, as if that is some superior rank, a badge of authority, yet with little more standing than claiming to be milk monitor.

Not that that worries Jack played superbly by Amit Mevorach, another from Education, Education, Education, who we first came across as latch key kid Dennis in Working Families back in 2016, where, incidentally, Rosie Nisbet was his career-before-family mum. Amit is now a star while Rosie is the director and also artistic director of Stage2.

Mevorach’s Jack is a despicable, thoroughly dislikeable, brutal psychopath who grabs power and through threats, cruelty, humiliation and sheer power of personality, clings on to it. The children follow him, you suspect, because he promises an easier and baser life, without the constraints, rules and work offered by Ralph.


Jack, the leader by force, who turns hunting into  a game of life and death

Amid Jack’s dismissal of Ralph is the implied feeling that being a boy he is superior to girl Ralph. There is no such implication when it comes to Rogers, Jack’s trusted, or perhaps that should be slavishly loyal but not quite trusted, lieutenant, played by Fi Lawrence-Pietroni.

Rogers is a nobody, just one of the crowd, who grabs on to Jack’s coat tails, clutching at power by association. From nobody to sadist, terrorising the other children and dismissive of girls, he is Jack’s enforcer, but you suspect, only as long as Jack finds him useful.

You end up hating him, finding him both repulsive and sinister –it is a wonderful performance.

Ralph’s trusty lieutenant is Piggy, desperately short-sighted Piggy, played in a fine performance by Casey-James Connolly-Guy. Piggy is from a less fashionable school and wants meetings about . . . well anything, even about having meetings. A real committee man. He designates the conch shell they found as the symbol of authority, giving it mystical powers like a crown or seal of office.

You suspect fun is not in his lexicon, all the hallmarks of the kid last to be invited or selected, if at all, for anything, but he does have some good ideas, building shelters, assigning jobs - being a community in fact. Another believable portrayal and another character we feel for at the end.

Star of the show though must be Moriah Potter, the movement lead, who took on the leading role of Simon at a week’s notice due to unforeseen circumstances. We were warned in the programme she had had little rehearsal time, and may need a script – forget it. She was superb and had we not been told we would have had no inkling of the problems she had brilliantly overcome.

In the book Simon is the sensible one, the voice of reason, often unheard, as the savagery and the power struggle between hunter Jack and society builder Ralph escalates.

Here she is somewhat unstable, with mental problems made worse by the situation. Very much a different Simon and handled with aplomb.

There was also good support from Bella Bailey, as Sam, Alice Berrill as Bill, Evie Mumford as Henry, Emilie Charbonneau as Roberts, Kames Coley as Peter, James Woodman as Maurice, Jenna Duce as Persephone and Molly Oldershaw as Erica, and, this is Stage2 after all, a cast of thousands, well another 36, to populate the island.


Raph is frustrated by Jack in her attempt to bring order into the precarious life of  the group

With the entire cast on stage they generate a sinister air, even their dancing is threatening, tribal, primitive, brilliantly creating unease in the audience helped by primal chants from the chorus and insistent primeval rhythms from percussionists Joel Fleming and Joe Hack-Myers.

The chanting and drumming add a time element, chronicling the transition from lost children with an uncertain future to a tribal society with savages ruling the roost and lording it over those preaching civilisation, and, as always with Stage2, no one is one stage as furniture. They have to be alive, animated, ordinary people, even if they have no lines. If you are on stage, you are part of the action.

Golding’s novel was a reaction to R. M. Ballantyne’s 1857 novel,The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean, a tale of three boys marooned on a desert island after a shipwreck, Ralph, Jack  (ring a bell?) and Peterkin. Their Christian values, civilised nature and acceptance of hierarchy and leadership see an almost idyllic survival.

Golding, a teacher all his working life, apart from wartime service in the navy, came across the novel and found the tale unrealistic, at best, and decided to write a novel, his first by the way, about how real children would really react and in 1954 his dystopian antidote to The Coral Island arrived.

It is a novel about conflict. There is the ongoing war, it is set during World War III, implied nuclear war, creating a background of fear and worry, then there is the conflict between Ralph and Jack and their supporters, and then the inner conflicts of wanting to be an individual yet be one of a group, the clash between wanting an ordered life with rules against freedom, between wanting to follow and wanting to lead, between compassion and cruelty.

Much is lost in the adaptation, as must happen when portraying a 60,000 word novel on stage, but the essence of Golding’s work remains with its savagery, brutal murders and breakdown of society, with Stage2 portraying the hopelessness, the cruelty and violence with unsettling brilliance.

The end the sadistic yet weak Rogers in a true light, if ever accused of war crimes you suspect he would use the only following orders excuse. His allegiance and subservience switches immediately to the new figure of authority, the (spoiler alert) rescuing naval officer, played by past Stage2 member Connor Pollett.

The officer here being unfriendly and almost aggressive to the children, taking charge, unlike the novel’s friendly officer who represents a return to civilisation for the youngsters.

The end also sees Ralph, alone and hunted, with no followers, the only one taking any responsibility, as the broken, sobbing, elected leader,

Technically there is an effective simple set (Dan O’Neill) a hill with three platforms stage rear and a floor scattered with sticks and rocks all helped by telling lighting (Daisy Wilkes).

It is eight years since Stage2 last left the dark depths of the studio to grace the main stage, and the return is nothing less than a triumph from acting to stagecraft from director Rosie Nisbet, and assistants Lauren Brine and Eva Hack-Myers. Stage2 are back in a big way. To 22-07-23

Roger Clarke



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