Lord of the Flies starts with a bang, grabbing the audience’s attention and ensuring it never wanders throughout.
This Theatr Clwyd and Sherman Theatre production uses Nigel Williams’s adaptation of William Golding’s novel, boldly reimagined by director Emma Jordan and performed by a female cast (one male actor aside).
The novel was written by Golding after he experienced the horrors of war and has also been made into films. Despite not having read the book or seen the films, I still knew a lot about Lord of the Flies, so ingrained is the story in our culture. The idea of schoolboys stranded on a hitherto uninhabited island following a plane crash and their consequent demise into savagery – I admit it had put me off as it sounds so depressing. But while it tackles enormous themes, this production is excellent and hugely enjoyable.
Kate Lamb and Lola Adaja
Hannah Boyce, Leah Walker, Kate Lamb, Laura Singleton, Lowri Izzard, Lowri Hamer, and Mari Izzard
The children are girls from different schools, brought together as survivors after a plane evacuating them from a war crash lands. Set in the modern-day, the girls were sent to escape what sounds like a World War situation, so now believe they could be the only people left in the world.
Piggy advocates rules and meetings to come up with a sensible plan. Ralph is voted leader and sets about ensuring a fire is kept constantly burning and that shelters are built before nightfall. But the freedom and power goes to many of the other characters’ heads, particularly Jack, and they will not be tamed.
The power play and race for authority escalates until some truly terrible behaviour takes place, the details of which I won’t ruin.
The use of ‘the beast’ is interesting, is it genuine paranoia the like of which can happen when anarchy replaces order, or is it a justification for evil actions? The novel probably stemmed from Golding having seen what people could do to each other when under the spell of such a dictator as Hitler. This modern interpretation as my friend pointed out draws parallels with modern-day politics and terrorism built on fanaticism and scapegoating of others.
The girls are all acted by young women and referred to in the feminine form, but their names are still Jack, Ralph, Simon and so on. To me this is a master stroke which shows how little genuine difference gender really makes compared to the perceived difference. The story is about the human condition and what it’s capable of under certain circumstances, and gender is not important.
Lola Adaja and Gina Filingham
Hannah Boyce, Kate Lamb, Leah Walker and Laura Singleton
It was good to see young female actors playing physically strong, interesting, wild and sometimes savage characters in their own right, rather than – as can often be the case – foils or facilitators to male characters.
The story’s action takes place across the island, up on Castle Rock, on the beach, in the trees. A demanding ask for a set designer, one which James Perkins carries off with aplomb. The set is functional, eye-catching, dramatic and contemporary.
I was also impressed with movement director Liz Ranken’s work, as the powerful way the actors moved was really captivating. Making her professional debut, Olivia Marcus as Simon gave a memorable performance, particularly in acting a seizure very convincingly.
All of the actors were wonderful but Kate Lamb (Jack) and Gina Fillingham (Piggy) really gave stand-out performances. Audiences may know them from popular TV shows Call the Midwife and Benidorm respectively.
All in all Lord of the Flies is a powerful, interesting, thought-provoking show – a great night out.
Lord of the Flies is at Theatr Clwyd, Mold, until Saturday 13 October, then at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, from Wednesday 17 October to Saturday 3 November.
Images Sam Taylor
Main image: Lowri and Mari Izzard
Mari Izzard writes about Lord of the Flies: Mari Izzard: Acting alongside my twin sister in Lord of the Flies
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