10-14 November 2015
Reviewed by Jenny Seymour
Well, most of us have studied the characters of Piggy, Simon, Ralph and Jack and remember them well from our GCSE youth. In fact, from the conversations I overheard in the interval and as people left the theatre, many of the audience had come to see this production either because they had previously studied the book or because they were in fact studying it currently – lots of school class trips.
For those of you who don’t know the story of this classic, it follows a group of school boys brought together when they are deserted on an island after their plane is shot down during the war. Originally set in World War II, these children were fleeing war. However, a few updates in the production and it was easy to see that this could be set in today’s climate.
It is a woeful tale of human nature and is shocking to see how quickly a group of young vulnerable boys can turn on each other and act like savages. These boys are not all under-privileged. Indeed, many of them are from very affluent backgrounds. They begin quite excitedly chatting over each other, as you would imagine young boys would, there are a few that try to retain order and set some rules: a symbol of our civilised society. A chief is voted in, Ralph, (democracy) but he is very quickly over-ruled when he apologies to Piggy for his bullying behaviour towards him. The vulnerability in Jack is ruled by his instinct to hunt. He hides his fears by trying to face up to them and hunt them – the beast in this case – and quickly gathers a tribe to follow him and obtain the role of Chief. I’m not going to go into my personal view on whether Golding is right that savagery would triumph over civilisation if rules are not followed and adhered to and that the natural instinct is to be savage. However, the play is told so well that you can make your own minds up, as you are most-definitely drawn into the debate as the tale unfolds. What is also strange, is that I very quickly forgot in the play that these characters (and indeed actors) are just young children/young adults themselves. It isn’t until the solider arrives in the final scene and shouts at them for not behaving properly as you would expect of British children, that you remember that they are in fact just small children who have had to face the biggest ordeal of their life in being stranded on an island. How would any of us cope – let alone young children?
The play is very thought-provoking. We were left having a long debate about it and I could hear others from the audience discussing different themes that come out from the play. Are there people who are just evil and others who could never be so, or do we all have the hidden ability to kill subject to circumstances around us and a mechanism to fight to self-defend? What makes people blindly follow someone who is portraying evil tendencies? A fear of them? Respect for them? What would happen to the boys once they were rescued? They have still been through the most harrowing experience – is that the end of their innocence? Without getting too political in a theatre review, does it show a responsibility to look after even the most vulnerable people in our society, rather than leave the “weak” to flail on their own?
The set is absolutely incredible – a life size plane crash site – wow! Certainly places you on that island. One thing that did prove difficult having such an incredible fixed set, was showing the journey that the boys had to make up and down the mountain on the island. The mountain was simply the wing of the plane and, whilst it was very good the way the cast stood still whilst the other half of the cast were performing on the beach, it was sometimes difficult to see where the cast were supposed to be. I found this particularly in the haunting scene which culminates in the murder of Simon. It was clear that Perceval was a bit sheltered from the reality of what the boys had done, but on the stage, this wasn’t so clear.
The use of slow motion action was great to show the troubling thoughts of Simon and in some of the scenes that perhaps would have been a bit more harrowing otherwise. You were certainly drawn into the horror of what was taking place on that island and the torment of Piggy.
The casting is also fabulous – from the very young Perceval and the twins, through to the haunting Roger and Jack. All great performances so it is hard to highlight particular characters that stood out from the others – all amazing! I couldn’t have imagined the sweet-faced photo of Matthew Castle in the programme could become the unsettling character that is Roger. Fabulous performance. At first I thought the twins were not perhaps as good as others in the cast, but later on as the play progresses, they play the parts so well and exactly as you would imagine them to be and poor Piggy – the ignored, but perhaps wisest of them all, who comes to his demise from the top of the mountain. Well performed one and all!
I also wanted to give mention to the educational article in the programme which is featured by Professor Tanya Byron – it is an interesting read into her research and beliefs relating to child and adolescent mental health.
This production is delivered by the Regent’s Park Theatre and is only their second touring production. It is running nationally until March 2016, so I would definitely check out if it is on near you. It is not a relaxing night out, but is definitely worth watching this gripping drama.
Overall an emotionally exhilarating, gripping, thought-provoking and outstanding performances from such a young cast
Please note – the theatre only has an arrangement with the Q Park car park (you get 1 hour free parking) so bear this in mind when parking, as the car park next to the Crucible is quite expensive! There was also a bit of a queue for the Q-Park when leaving as everyone parks there for the theatre.
Tickets cost from £15 to £28 (booking fees may apply).
William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield until 14 October 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.
Lyceum Theatre, Norfolk St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 1DA | 0114 249 6000