Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lord of the Flies

New Theatre presents LORD OF THE FLIES, adapted by Nigel Williams from the novel by William Golding.

LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding, a Nobel prize Winner for Literature, was written in 1954, and has become one of the most studied and popular novels ever written. It is still part of the school syllabus. The work has been made into film, notably by Peter Brook in 1963 and by Harry Hook in 1990. This play adaptation was completed under commission from the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1995 by Nigel Williams, he himself a novelist and playwright. This version of the play text was seen at The SBW Stables Theatre several years ago.

LORD OF THE FLIES concerns a group of young pre-pubescent children from the British Public School system who have survived a plane crash on a deserted Island. It is an allegory concerning the nature of the human species and we observe the development of rival 'gangs' and their need for dominance to find a way to survive, where brute force cowers reason into submission. This story does not develop romantically and becomes a warning to us about the thin veneer of civilisation and how quickly it can be ripped down. Golding, had survived the horrors of World War II, witnessing the war in Europe and the affect of the Atomic bombs on Japan. The lord of the flies is the biblical equivalent of Beelzebub, the devil. The devil in the novel is represented by the fly blown head of a slaughtered pig.

This production by Anthony Skuse is moderately successful. Additions of symbolic masks, worn now and again by some of the boys, and the tendency to use allegorical means to represent aspects of crucial elements of the play, for instance the substitution with a bloodied human body shape for the pig's head, the lord of the flies, creates confusion to the lucidity of the play's story and meaning. The direct storytelling of the novel and the play adaptation is interfered with, with these unnecessary production diversions.A case where less maybe more. For example the act one climax of Simon's (Stephen Lloyd-Coombs) hallucination was completely undermined with a plethora of extraneous artistic offers and one was left bewildered about what had happened, especially what had been said. Simpler guidance in the directorial means, trusting the text rather than the temptation to present 'post dramatic' gestures of imagery and over wrought emotional choices from the performer, would have been more supportive to the experience of the play.

The strong suit of Mr Skuse, of being able to elicit coherent and mostly satisfactory performances from, what looks like, generally, a fairly inexperienced company of performers, is in evidence in abundance. Seton Pollock as Jack, Samuel Rushton as Piggy, Andrew Ryan as Ralph and Stephen Lloyd-Coombs as Simon (despite the confused mess of the end of the act one speech) give clear and affecting performances. Each of the other actors, also, with continued concentrated exploration of their responsibilities to the acting of the piece, should gain even further sharpness in character delineation and dramaturgical clarity, for the company of actors, although, apparently a little insecure line wise on the opening night, had all the hallmarks of a confident foundation from Mr Skuse, for their work to grow into an emotional dynamic experience for the audience.

The Set Design (David Marshall-Martin) is made up of two simple raised platforms and pool of water, is effectively lit for both dramatic and atmospheric story telling by Sara Swersky. The Sound design by Alistair Wallace is very useful (except the thunder cues!!!) and adds much to the subliminal belief to the events unfolding.

This LORD OF THE FLIES at the New Theatre should mature further to give school audiences a most interesting source of discussion concerning their study of this great novel.

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