Sunday 15 April 2012

Lord of the Flies – adapted by Nigel Williams, from the novel by William Golding

NOW SHOWING until 12th May 2012

Where: New Theatre, 542 King St Newtown

Tickets: Full $30, Concession $25

Director: Anthony Skuse

10 boys, lost on an island with no Peter Pan to lead them to food, shelter and survival.

It doesn’t take long for these mixed-class youths to become angry, violent and haunted by a mysterious ‘beast’ which lurks in the depths of the forest/their minds.

If you haven’t already read William Golding’s incredibly famous 1954 novel Lord of the Flies then you will probably find this play mildly confusing and have a furrowed brow through most of the two acts.

However, you will LOVE this play if you are a fan of the novel, which depicts the gradual deterioration of order and humanity told through snooty, competitive high school boys whose (unusually fierce) primal instincts take over and savagery ensues when they are stranded on an island.

The cast range from 14-28 years old and each has impeccable diction and the power of voice that is necessary to command such complex roles.

A show-stopping performance takes place at the very end of the first act when Stephen Lloyd-Coombs who plays ‘Simon’, a delusional, schizophrenic character, breaks down when his inner beast swallows up his rational self and leaves him screaming, panting and curled up in a ball. This is the best scene of the first act which is otherwise a little tame.

The second act is brutal and the energy created onstage is ramped up to a tense and frightening level when the boys lose their sanity and become obsessed with hunting and killing.

The minimalistic staging complete with water surrounding the multi-level stage adds to the feeling of utter isolation which the novel creates. It is just the boys and their inner battle of good versus evil.

Each actor has a presence and I was blown away by the intensity and commitment each actor had to their character, especially their clear, strong voices. Seton Pollock is excellent in his depiction of ambitious and cutthroat ‘Jack’, the one who falls the hardest and with the direst of consequences.

Despite feeling a little uncomfortable when, by the end of the play, all characters are wearing only tidy-whitey underpants symbolising their devolution and weakening state, the second act was by far the most exciting and physically and emotionally confronting.

All in all, a fantastic production once the story deepened and the characters adapt to life in an uninhabitable environment. I would definitely see another play with these actors in it.

Reviewed by Lana Hilton

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