Lord of the Flies
Adaptation Nigel Williams
Directed by Jeff Kingsford-Brown
A long island iced tea was a great accompaniment to carry into a disorienting set as I was dragged into what seemed like unfamiliar surroundings at Centrepoint Theatre for the opening night of ‘Lord of the Flies’. My thirteen year old daughter who’d auditioned for a part (unsuccessfully) was eager to get in and check everything out. Time to look around at what was a dramatically different set from usual was a good thing and we debated whether it was actually sand that covered the stage or amazing special effects – I was firmly of the side of sand and in the end I created a distraction allowing Miss thirteen the opportunity to get close enough to touch it, and yes it’s sand. I’ll leave the rest of the set as a surprise element (apart from revealing that it is basically a giant sandpit) because I don’t want to spoil what is a pretty neat experience of discovery.
Sci-fi style music set an eerie scene and being ignorant to the story I wasn’t sure what was coming. Miss thirteen leaned forward and whispered to me ‘you’re going to cry, I’ve just remembered some pretty brutal scenes and ugh...’ she shivers. As I braced myself and watched people file into their allocated seats amongst a surreal environment, I felt a little bit like I was at an amusement park waiting for a ride to begin, I envisioned a white knuckle experience.
Momentarily we were bathed in soothing yellow light bringing to life a scene of golden sands and blue skies, a sort of freedom and utopia for the children who survived a plane crash. But this is short-lived, as unruliness gives way to power struggles, to bullying, a battle for survival, fear and murder. There’s blood, bones, fire and an unapologetic battle of good and evil, it’s a relief to come up for air at half-time.
This mixed-genre re-enactment of ‘Lord of the Flies’ showed some stunning performances. Comfrey Sanders’ portrayal of Simon was outstanding. Miss thirteen singled her out as her favourite character. Similarly Ella Hope-Higginson’s portrayal of Jack was chillingly on point, I hated her psychopathic bitchy character in an all too real way and had to remind myself that she was clearly doing a great job and probably in real life was quite a nice person. As Roger, Nathan Mudge had me concerned that his grasp on his role came all too naturally, watch out for that guy (but again probably just great at his role). As the voice of reason and maturity Leighton Stitchbury’s – Piggy, was bullied and taunted, a role he nurtured carefully, winning the hearts of a sympathetic audience. Michael Van Echten playing lead character Ralph, was torn between the voice of reason offered by Piggy and the fear of being weak which was constantly being pointed out by Jack, it seemed an emotionally exhausting role to play. A well rehearsed ensemble cast brought solid support and authenticity to the gritty reality of their situation.
Some clever techniques brought the set to life and the aesthetic the sand provided as well as the position of the stage allowed the audience a 3D fly on the wall experience.
The strength of this story was crucial to the success of this play yet this adaptation was strong, thrilling and slightly disturbing, a combination that leaves a kiss of fear on your skin.