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Review - Lord of the Flies: superbly brought to life

January 20, 2018

 

Image by Turn It Up Photography

 

Lord of the Flies

Written by William Golding

Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams

Directed by Bradley Chapman

Beenleigh Theatre Group

Creek Street Theatre

Beenleigh

 

Season: 19 January to 3 February 2018. Bookings: http://beenleightheatregroup.com/booking/ 

 

Lord of the Flies is set during World War II and tells the story of a group of schoolboys who are being flown out of the country to avoid the London bombings (probably to Canada as that is where some went). However, they crash land on a remote, uninhabited island somewhere in the Pacific with no adults left alive from the accident. What are they to do now and how do they survive?

More than just a story of boys stranded with no adult to provide moral and ethical guidance, let alone survival techniques, this is also about the psychology behind the gradual decline into chaos. The boys start out with reasonably good intentions, but as with all group dynamics there are those who seek power and believe they should be leaders just because that’s their right.

The boys all come from a mix of schools – upper class to the less privileged public school. Right away the upper-class boys look down on those from inferior schools and attempt to lord it over them, by being disparaging and downright insulting. Our two main characters, Jack and Ralph, are opposites in their personalities and Jack takes it as a major affront when he is not voted in as chief of the ‘tribe’, but Ralph is.

Jack, and those loyal to him, break away from the main group, and go hunting – bringing down a wild pig and revelling with delight in the kill, smearing blood on their bodies as a rite of initiation.

This group is now better than the group on the beach, as they had made their first kill. Jack’s failure however, was in the lie he kept perpetuating about the ‘beast’ (turns out to be a dead parachutist caught up in a tree) and that this ‘beast’ kept taking different forms and they had to kill it.

His failure was that he set in motion a sad, tragic set of events that soon cascaded out of even his control, and he had to maintain that to remain leader, even after killing two of the boys from Ralph’s group, knowing it was wrong, but convincing himself and others otherwise. Jack eventually loses control of his right-hand man and enforcer, Roger, who revels in the evil of the killing, pushing and cajoling to the bitter end.

Lord of the Flies is a heavy, complex plot and was superbly brought to life by the 12 very talented young actors. The characters of Ralph and Jack were played by Jayden McGinlay and Nic Van Litsenborgh, respectively. They were perfectly matched as the alter-egos of each – Ralph, the weak leader, being smaller and skinnier of the two and Jack, the bully, being older and more physically developed.

Jayden and Nic were exceptional in their portrayals and it was enjoyable watching their interaction on stage. Roger is a complex character and is only more than eager to lap up the descent into savagery. He was ably played by Jordan Stott, who made him very believable.

Simon, a lost soul, and Piggy were played by Liam Pert and Levi Rayner. They try to hold the group to the moral high ground, but are the unfortunate victims. The other boys on stage were also great in their roles: the twins Sam (Elliot Hanscomb) and Eric (Fraser Anderson) who finished each other’s sentences; Perceval, the youngest (Samuel Johnson); Maurice (Chris Patrick), Bill (Calvin Olivier) and Henry (Nicholas Griffin) who are all part of Jack’s tribe. All of the boys spoke with varying British accents, which were not easy to maintain, especially as this play was quite physical.

The fight scenes were remarkably choreographed, especially with the use of bamboo sticks as weapons. A knee to the head in one scene looked real, it was that well done.

The set design (Bradley Chapman and Andrew Alley) was incredibly simple and at the same time, not. At the rear of the stage, was a two-tiered platform, which took up the whole width – the bottom had two openings and the centre top opened to allow the boys to climb down from a height, as if from the top of a hill or out of the jungle.

Stage right and left featured a raised, round platform – the one on the left being used as a hill from which the whole island could be seen, and the right platform being used as a vantage point on the beach and on which the dead parachutist was dangled above. Other props included a few wooden apple crates and a bamboo V-shaped shelter. In front of the centre stage, there was a small half circle on which the boar’s head was mounted. The major pieces of scenery had all been painted black with thin white vertical railings to create the illusion of jungle, as the boys moved on and off stage. The lighting enhanced the set to its maximum effect, adding to the degeneration of the social environment.

Bradley Chapman, the Director, has done a marvellous job in bringing this story to life and in getting the very best performances out of his actors. Congratulations to the whole cast and crew for an incredible show.

I really enjoyed this show, even though I thought I might not, having seen the movie way back in the 70’s and being horrified and scared by the power of the story.

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