This stage adaptation of the classic novel isn't afraid to reveal the darkness at its core, and so triumphs.
Adapted for the stage and directed by Timothy Sheader, Lord of the Flies takes to the Mayflower Theatre this week, unraveling the powerful messages embedded in its source material with gratifying results. Based on William Golding’s novel of the same name, the production tells the story of a group of young boys who survive a plane crash on a deserted island. Things quickly turn into a struggle to stay alive, as human becomes savage.
With an authentic, precise, and intrusive set, the production is aesthetically engaging, where bright lights continuously flash to build suspense whilst the audience filters in. Beginning with an explosive intro and wild sound, the start of the production sets the bar high for the rest to come. Particularly towards the latter half, the stage pulses with a fiery orange, and the occasional injection of stunningly bright white flash. The light does a great job of not only expressing the dark underbelly of the plot, but also building the tension to high, but simultaneously contained, levels. This is combined with the use of sound, which mirrors the lighting, in the sense that both use sudden sharpness for jumpy effects. Both aspects create a true experience for the audience, where one feels cocooned in the rather sensational visual and audio dimensions.
Using sound and lighting, the production was innovative in its narrative structure and scenes, where some parts were conducted in slo-motion, whilst other parts were followed through a montage-esque quality with several scenes colliding together in a fast-paced appearance. The production played with time and space without doubt. Occasionally it slipped into clumsy endeavour, with space becoming slightly bemusing (for instance, the final chase became disorienting as to where people actually were in the set and where this represented in the island). But despite these lapses, the production’s use of the set was overwhelmingly great.
The cast came together in force for the performance, with Piggy (Anthony Roberts) and Ralph’s (Luke Ward-Wilkinson) chemistry being especially fantastic. Both of the young actor’s epitomised exactly what the source material evoked from each character, with Piggy’s naive but moral core and Ralph’s fascinating character development. The cast were extraordinary. As well as this, they revealed the darkness that Lord of the Flies is truly about. Some shy away from it, but this particular production was fearless and as a result of this fearlessness, the show was twisted and disturbing in all the right ways, with the cast being a key tool in evoking these unsettling and powerful messages.
Perfectly tracking the development from civilisation to non-civilisation, from humanity to savagery, from collectivity to brutality, Nigel Williams’ Lord of the Flies developed Golding’s tale (such as its contemporary popular culture infusions like Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ and grand visuals) whilst skilfully not losing its core.
Lord of the Flies is at The Mayflower Theatre until 3rd October. Tickets are still available here.