Mayflower Theatre, Southampton – until 3 October
Then touring until 19 March 2016
I’d heard great things about the Regent’s Park Theatre production of Lord of the Flies by William Golding. The media and star ratings had led me to believe I was in for a great evening of theatre. So did it live up to my expectations?
As I took to my seat, I could see the amazing set (designed by Jon Bausor) which really was a sight to behold. The fuselage of a British Airways plane was on the stage with its cargo and suitcase contents strewn across the apron and surrounding stage. The flashing lights and smoke escaping from its broken and severed wing. It’s fair to say I did read the book some thirty plus years ago and so my memory was a little vague on the plot, and if I had the time, I’d say a refresher is probably a good thing to do before seeing this play. Written and published in 1954, this has seen both film and stage adaptations before.
The story of a group of British schoolboys who whilst being evacuated from conflict, crash land onto an uninhabited island. Their fight to survive, in the hope of being rescued, has disastrous consequences. Led by Luke Ward-Wilkinson (Ralph) and Freddie Watkins (Jack) this young cast did an admirable job. However my uncomfortable feeling started with the modernisation of the piece to bring it up to date. The use of a “selfie stick” and the word “banter” did nothing to ease this feeling. This is a literary classic warning of many society concerns such as bullying, class distinctions and the fundamental “treating people as you would want to be treated” seemed to be replaced with a disproportional amount of padding to this already very short play.
Absolutely none of this is down to the young cast and they did a brilliant job with what they had been given to do. I’m sad to say that for me this adaptation did not live up to my high expectation. This review however comes with a caveat in that the young audience who attended as part of their GCSE studies, enjoyed it immensely, judging by the rapturous applause at the end. I would also say that if it entices new theatre-goers to visit their local performance venue than it is a triumph, but for me I left feeling underwhelmed on this occasion.
Lord Of The Flies – Mayflower Southampton Until 3rd October then Touring
By Caroline Hanks-Farmer