REVIEW: Lord of the Flies, Mayflower


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REVIEW: Lord of the Flies, Mayflower

REVIEW: Lord of the Flies, Mayflower, by David Cradduck.

There is a certain inevitability about Lord of the Flies, rather akin to watching Titanic. It is a story ingrained in most of our memories, more often than not because we studied it at school. It is with some morbid fascination that, despite knowing the story only too well, we re-read the book, view again the 1963 film or, in this case, watch the plot unfold on stage, all in the subliminal hope that this time it might turn out better.

But it doesn’t. This is not a cheery tale, plotting as it does the decline in civilised behaviour when a group of young schoolboys find themselves marooned on an island following a plane crash. Written in 1954 the author William Golding – a mild mannered schoolteacher living in middle-class Salisbury – designed it to shock the reader. It is true that by today’s standards of on-screen (and even on-stage) horror, there is very little actual blood and gore. It is more the inevitable fear that sets in once you witness these polite, well-mannered young lads rapidly descend into anarchy, tribalism, savagery and even murder.

REVIEW: Lord of the Flies, Mayflower

There are morals and metaphors galore and the book, originally set in the second world war, has been the subject of many a child psychologist’ basic training. The issues of human behaviour arising from Lord of the Flies are discussed by many an educationalist and continue to baffle us; is this really what happens when you release a bunch of humans, deprived of law and order, into the wild? A quick look at present day gang culture tells us that the answer is probably yes, but quite a bit quicker than the three months or so it takes the lads in this story.

Nigel Williams’ 2011 stage adaptation for Regent’s Park Theatre was for me faithful to the original, despite being set in modern day (odd that there were only boys on this British Airways flight!). It was visually and audibly shocking, as the boys shouted, danced, and fought their way around the stage. Hats off to Jon Bausor for an imaginative set featuring part of a crashed plane complete with baggage, a part-buried wing and crash debris everywhere. Real flames play a big part of the plot and there was no skimping on the real thing on stage either. Fires were started, torches lit and the effect, with the tribal drumbeat and chants, war paint, atmospheric smoke and brilliant lighting, was so realistic you could not fail to be drawn into the story.

REVIEW: Lord of the Flies – Mayflower – ‘Frighteningly Authentic’

REVIEW: Lord of the Flies

The young men taking all parts were loud, frantic and frighteningly authentic. I felt heart-stopping fear for Ralph, the reluctant hero played so well by Luke Ward-Wilkinson and Piggy, his bullied, bespectacled and vulnerable friend. Piggy, the sacrificial character, also played with absolute conviction by Anthony Roberts, met with a nasty end at the hands of Freddie Watkins as Jack, Matthew Castle playing Roger, both smeared with blood, sweat and paint in equal portions. The supporting cast, all as energetic and convincing as the lead actors, helped to create a tumultuous climax to the tension which was palpable, even for the curtain call.

The switch between live action and slo-mo was effective although I got the feeling that there should have been strobe lighting to accentuate the slo-mo; the use of the stage for setting different scenes was occasionally confusing until, for example, you got the hang of the fact that the top of the mountain was also the top of the plane’s tailplane.

All in all, a gripping, tense and incredibly energetic piece of theatre which took nothing away from Golding’s original.