Local theatre critic, Gill O’Donnell gives the highest praise to the cast and production team of Lord of the Flies, performed over four nights in the Richard Whiteley Theatre last week.
“Adapted for the stage by the award-winning novelist and playwright, Nigel Williams, this interpretation of William Golding's controversial novel Lord of the Flies is both emotionally intense while its themes are still powerfully relevant in today's political climate. The storyline deals with a group of pupils, evacuated from a conflict zone, who become stranded on an island and their attempts to survive and the subsequent peeling away of the veneer of civilisation. The story is in many ways the stuff of nightmares: fear of being abandoned; loss of control; erosion of order and the horror of something malevolent out there in the dark.
These dark themes are brought to frightening life in a production which moves with the speed of a forest fire, drawing the audience in ever deeper by a combination of stunning acting and clever stagecraft with an impressive use of lighting and sound. The set too becomes an important metaphor as it changes from being an island where all are free to wander to become two distinct territories: one the sandy beach which is gradually being eroded and littered with waste and the other a place of shadows and violence.
It is hard to find sufficient words to praise the calibre of the cast, many only in the first years of their secondary education, as they achieved a production which was outstanding in every area. Their commitment to the production shone through and the show was clearly the result of a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. The ensemble nature of the show meant that everyone was on stage for most of the time and this requires sustained concentration and involvement throughout, not an easy task but one which all fulfilled. One clear example of this was Martha Richmond as Perceval who embodied the confusion of the younger children and is clearly a talent to watch out for in future productions.
The protagonists at this performance were exceptional, engaging the audience from the first. Isabelle Thompson, as Simon - a particularly complex character, was compelling and in conversation with the beast was heart-rending. Similarly, Sophie Huber as Piggy, the voice of reason, was totally compelling. Likewise, Olivia Henson as Ralph and Jack Harrison as Jack were excellent and the tension between them crackled from the outset to the very last moment. This was acting of the very highest standard.
The decision to work with two different sets of actors taking the key roles means that at each production there will be a different dynamic which again will add another level of interest to the performances, however I have no doubt that in all instances they will maintain the high standard set on this opening night.
Congratulations therefore to everyone involved both on and behind stage, particularly those involved in the technical side of the production as their contribution added so much to the overall shape and effect of the finished show and to the directorial team whose ideas shaped this amazing piece of theatre.”