Lord of the Flies at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford Review

LordoftheFliesLord of the Flies
Alhambra, Bradford

3-6 December 2014


Reviewed by Gemma Ingham

The Alhambra Theatre is conveniently located in the centre of Bradford, near two NCP carparks, and 5 minutes’ walk from the Interchange and train station.

As someone with mobility problems and a blue badge I was delighted to see they have reserved disabled parking specifically for theatre goers directly outside. It took a lot of stress out of the trip as usually it can be a worry trying to find disabled spaces in a city you do not know and having to struggle to get to your location.

The theatre itself is large, modern, bustling and quite overwhelming when we entered. There were plenty of very smartly dressed staff members dotted throughout, and one on a stand near the entrance that was easy to locate and approach should you need to ask a question. Signs were clear and queues into the theatre were dealt with efficiently and politely.

Our seats were in the stalls and I was pleased to see the seats were graduated in height as I have visited some theatres recently where the seats in the stalls are all one level which can mean you have difficulty seeing the stage due to the person in front. There was plenty of leg room and I found the seats confortable for a theatre.

Onto the performance. I, like most people I know, studied the book Lord of The Flies by William Golding for GCSE English in my younger days. At the time I enjoyed the book and it and the characters have stayed with me so I was eager to see how this theatre production could interpret the book. Would they have an elaborate stage set up to replicate an island? Would the boys be played by actual small boys? How well would the characters translate? And how can they do all of this without actually speaking a word? The answers were mind-blowing.

The stage set was quite sparse. Some different levels of metal platforms, smoke, and that was about it to start off with. The boys entered, a large group of all ages being portrayed in smart school uniform, marching in unison. It quickly became evident this was not to be a literal translation of the book.

For a start, the boys are trapped on stage, abandoned in this theatre and the first thing they do is get out their mobile phones to check for a signal. Fun ensues told through the medium of dance. The stage bursts to life with numerous groups of boys all over the place and as an audience member it is a feast for the eyes, things to look at all over and different scenarios played out on every inch of the stage. It is glorious to see how all the boys work together in their routines. A lot of it is synchronized and I can’t say I ever noticed that any one person was out of time. They seem to gel together and help each other throughout their routines, the older boys especially seeming to help guide the younger ones along.

The initial few days abandoned in the theatre detail the fight for leadership, hunger, older boys going off to get food and in this modern interpretation arriving back with boxes of crisps from the theatre merchandise booth.

All too soon the show does start to take a darker turn. Splits in the group appear, sides are taken, fights are had. I found it absolutely amazing how much these talented dancers can convey through movement of their body and face, I was never left in doubt as to what the mood on stage was.

The older cast members and main characters had quite a few solos that really allowed them to showcase their talents and they managed to convey their character and mood perfectly. I could pinpoint which character was which from the book.

The second half of the performance is a bit more sinister in tone and we see the novel way they bring Piggy to his unfortunate demise which I thought was amazing.

The cast got a standing ovation and the longest applause I have ever encountered at a show. It was made all the more special that 22 of the younger cast members are local boys from the Yorkshire region. By their beaming smiles you could see every single cast member had enjoyed themselves to the fullest and were incredibly proud of their work, and so they should be.

An amazing performance.

Rating: 5/5 thumbs_up

Tickets cost from £16.50 to £29.50 (plus £1/£1.50 booking fee).

Lord of the Flies is at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford until 6 December 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01274 432000.

The Alhambra Theatre, Morley Street, Bradford, BD7 1AJ | Box Office 01274 432000


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