Right from the very opening, the production of Lord of the Flies was every bit as enthralling as it was uncomfortable as the talented cast maintained an edgy intensity, capturing every nuance of Golding’s dark tale. From the youthful exuberance of schoolboy leaping and howling to night-time disquiet and the sinister power of imagination, fuelled by each other’s angst, the audience lived every moment of the drama and tension as the boys go progressively more tribal. Sharp choreography, ritualistic movement, and slow-motion sequences, as well as compelling elements of dance and physical theatre, utilised to full effect the set’s various levels as it sloped down to the beach. Indeed, the claustrophobia of the small island was perfectly captured by the congested confines of the staging.
Felix Day was a fundamentally sympathetic and likeable Ralph who gave a heartfelt and moving rendition of the honesty and decency of a character ultimately wrecked by grief at the close of the play. James Nicholas as the convincingly sadistic and brutal Roger and Will Saunders’ cruelly casual Jack were able subtly to reveal the power dynamics as they vied for ultimate power through intimidation and fear. The bespectacled and socially isolated Piggy was portrayed with real pathos and truthfulness by Jack Fuller. Other standout performances included Gabriel Meadowcroft as Simon who effectively embodied the emotional, spiritual turmoil – and increasing inner conflict – of a character who believes in the inherent value of morality. As the twins Sam and Eric, Fraser Williams and Milo Findji skilfully and touchingly depicted the starkly contrasting ways in which the boys respond to trauma, while the littluns perfectly portrayed innocent childishness. With a progression from immaculately turned-out schoolboys to clearly dishevelled individuals, the rest of the cast was equally accomplished: the performances only enhanced by atmospheric staging, lighting and music which perfectly captured the essence of the island as tension and fear increasingly permeated the action.
Menacing and touching in equal measure, the production provided a timely and topical reminder of the fragile veneer of civilisation that continues to bind us. Dark, thrilling and intense, an appreciative audience was left to reflect that, 70 years after it was written, the messages remain to this day as relevant and topical as ever.