Lord of the Flies
Based on the novel by William Golding adapted by Nigel Williams
Sell A Door Theatre Company
Corn Exchange Newbury
It is over 50 years since William Golding’s classic novel Lord of the Flies was published and since then it has become a set text for schools and been made into several films and numerous stage adaptions.
In Nigel Williams’s gripping adaption for Sell A Door Theatre Company, the essence of this harrowing tale of a group of school boys stranded on a desert island after their plane crashes keeps true to the original novel and focuses on the gradual slide to native barbarity.
The public school boys are fleeing from the trauma of war tearing Europe apart and find themselves alone without any adult supervision having to fend for themselves.
Richard Evans’s simple set design consisting of boxing punch bags and balls and a set of steps with the stage covered in sand is a constant reminder of the school gymnasiums and the fact that these are merely schoolboys.
Ben Wiggins is splendid as the level headed Ralph trying to make sense of their predicament and the excellent Daniel Buckley as the overweight bespectacled Piggy, the only non public school boy, suffering from asthma is the level voice of reason.
By contrast, Mark Smedley, the head chorister, perfectly captures the vindictive and brutal Jack determined to become the chief as he and Ralph struggle for the leadership and the boys eventually break into two gangs. Jack and his choristers become the hunters off to, “kill the pig” whilst Ralph and Piggy stay on the beach to build shelters, keep the signal fire burning and look after the little ’uns.
Mathew Grace gives a powerful, convincing performance as the stammering epileptic Simon who is mesmerised by the pig’s head and rushing through the forest is mistaken for the beast and savagely murdered.
Social order has broken down as the boys revert to becoming primitive tribes with blood splattered bodies, their fears fired by the spectre of a beast, and the sheer frenzy of hunting and vivid imaginations results in the death of Piggy by Roger (David Eaton) dropping a boulder on his head.
The twins Sam (Mathew Crouzieres) and Eric (Craig Webb) are captured and switch sides forced to join Jack’s tribe. There is strong support from Daniel Ash as Percival and Michael Tantrum as Maurice.
Ralph has now become isolated, an outcast from the rest and is wildly chased in a manhunt through the burning forest by Ralph’s gang to what can only be an inhuman end. But the adults have arrived restoring a sense of reason and order, breaking up the boys’ ‘game,’ with the naval commander, “expecting better from British boys.”
The fine dividing line between order and anarchy is obvious and has resonance in today’s troubled society.
Director, David Hutchinson has created a fast paced production with a highly talented cast in what is a compelling, emotive yet disturbing theatre piece that was enthusiastically appreciated by the mainly young audience.
Touring to Hull New Theatre 13th-15h Feb, Bishop Storford 21st Feb, Octagon Theatre Yeovil 22nd Feb, Connaught Theatre Worthing 24th-25th Feb and continuing until 28th April.
Reviewer: Robin Strapp