Lord of the Flies

Oct 15 2015 | By More

★★★★☆ Ferocious energy

Festival Theatre: Tue 13 – Sat 17 Oct 2015
Review by Susan Lowes

Regents Park Open Air Theatre positively tears through the stage at the Festival Theatre this week as its Lord of the Flies leaves a trail of destruction in its wake.

Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams, this production of William Golding’s classic novel is thrilling, energetic and dynamic. Director Timothy Sheader positively excels in transporting the audience directly onto the desert island, where a group of schoolboys are the only survivors of catastrophic plane crash.

Lord of the Flies. Photo: Johan Persson

Lord of the Flies. Photo: Johan Persson

The set is remarkable. From the carcass of the plane that has been ripped to shreds, to the wing that serves as both shelter and hazard, to the extended beach that invades the front rows of the stalls, Jon Bausor has designed every element to be incredibly intricate, interactive and purposely functional.

This level of detail is replicated within the choreography of the production, which at times is so cleverly controlled by the cast that there is a dance-like quality to even the random movements. The innovative use of space, light and sound complements the choreography to depict the descent from schoolboy adventure to fight for survival.

Golding’s novel is a horrific examination of the self. Exploring and questioning whether an innate savagery exists within each of us. Will this savagery surface when the constraints of society are removed and a group identity takes over? This production manages to capture this essence evocatively, contrasting nicely between order and chaos; between controlled and uncontrolled.

the darker edge to humanity

The talented young cast too are compelling and convincing, depicting the divide. Rational and fair elected charismatic leader Ralph and the whining, yet loveable Piggy, played by Luke Ward-Wilkinson and Anthony Roberts lead the side for civilisation.

While the increasingly cruel and barbaric Jack (Freddie Watkins) leads the hunters into a frenzy as he wholeheartedly represents the savagery. Even Guy Abrahams as the baby of the group, Perceval, is haunting as he shows the darker edge to humanity. The final result is terrifying as the production progresses and the pack mentality emerges.

Freddie Wakins and Luke Ward-Wilkinson as Jack and Ralph. Photo: Johan Persson

Freddie Wakins and Luke Ward-Wilkinson as Jack and Ralph. Photo: Johan Persson

However, unfortunately the production fails to wholly convince. There are parts within that jarr and undermine the beautiful, ferocious energy that the production and cast manage to almost effortlessly create.

Sheader has woven small details into the piece that set it firmly within the present day. As the boys initially explore their surroundings, they use their selfie sticks to take photos, they search for their 3G coverage, they know how to survive because they’ve seen I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. And yet, set alongside other aspects of Golding’s 1954 text, these details contradict the boys’ naivety that brings the juxtaposition between the constrained and the savage to life.

The boys are after all, good British boys who are decent and can be expected to act in a certain way. Except Golding’s version of a British schoolboy is not the version of a schoolboy that exists today. Their inability to set their survival knowledge into motion, their incomprehension of the severity of their situation and their total reliance on a passing ship to save them belies their modern day setting.

While these details are small, they do manage to detract from the atmosphere so convincingly created by what seems to be every other aspect of the production. Which is a shame, because this visual and emotional assault on the senses could be truly exceptional.

Running time: 2 hours (including interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Tuesday 13 to Saturday 17 October 2015
Daily: 7.30pm; Matinees: Thurs: 1pm, Saturday: 2.30pm
Details and tickets: http://www.edtheatres.com/flies

Lord of the Flies on Tour:

Tue 13 – Sat 17 Oct
Festival Theatre
0131 529 6000

Tue 20 – Sat 24 Oct
Hall For Cornwall
01872 262466

Tue 3 – Sat 7 Nov
Repertory Theatre
0121 236 4455

Tue 10 – Sat 14 Nov
0114 249 6000

Tue 17 – Sat 21 Nov
Wycombe Swan
01494 512 000

Tue 24 – Sat 28 Nov
Bord Gais Theatre
0818 719 377

Tue 1 – Sat 5 Dec
The Lowry
0843 208 6010


Tue 12 – Sat 16 Jan
Theatre Royal
01225 448844

Tue 19 – Sat 23 Jan
Richmond Theatre
0844 871 7651

Tue 26 – Sat 30 Jan
G Live
01483 369350

Tue 2 – Sat 6 Feb
0151 709 4776

Tue 9 – Sat 13 Feb
0116 242 3595

Tue 23 – Sat 27 Feb
Warwick Arts Centre
024 7652 4524

Tue 1 – Sat 5 Mar
01274 432000

Tue 8 – Sat 12 Mar
Theatre Royal
08448 11 21 21

Tue 15 – Sat 19 Mar
Churchill Theatre
08448 717 620


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.